Bill Maher criticizes NFL for playing Black national anthem

HBO’s Bill Maher on Friday took aim at the NFL’s decision to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” long considered the Black national anthem, before games this season, calling it “segregation” but “under a different name.” 

The host of “Real Time with Bill Maher” commented on the NFL’s 2021 opening game between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which featured a performance of the song by Alicia Keys before “The Star-Spangled Banner” was featured. 

Maher said during his Friday show, “Maybe we should get rid of our national anthem, but I think we should have one national anthem.” 

He continued, “I think when you go down a road where you’re having two different national anthems, colleges sometimes now have … many of them have different graduation ceremonies for Black and white, separate dorms. … This is what I mean: segregation.” 

“You’ve inverted the idea. We’re going back to that under a different name,” he added, prompting applause from his audience. 

Maher included his commentary within a broader discussion of race, arguing that college campuses and classrooms are becoming a “social justice factory.” 

“When people say to me sometimes, like, ‘Boy, you really go after the left these days. Why?’ Because you’re embarrassing me,” Maher explained. “That’s why I’m going after the left in a way you never did before.” 

“I’m not going to give up on being liberal,” he continued. “You’re taking children and making them hyperaware of race in a way they wouldn’t otherwise be.”

The NFL’s decision to include the Black national anthem comes after it was featured at some games during the previous season, including at Super Bowl LV, when players from the Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs linked arms as Keys performed the song. 

At Thursday’s game, Keys was joined by members of the historically black university Florida A&M Concert Choir as the teams stood in their end zones on the field. 

The NFL has said that the song will be featured this season before certain “tentpole games” as part of the league’s 10-year, $250 million pledge to fight racism. 

The NFL will also promote its social justice campaign through signs, player helmet decals and PSAs.

Tags Bill Maher black national anthem HBO Lift Every Voice and Sing National Football League NFL Super Bowl Super Bowl LV Tampa Bay Buccaneers The Star-Spangled Banner

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