July 3, 2020
NFL Plans To Play 'Black National Anthem' Before Week 1 Game, Per Reports

The National Football League (NFL) plans to play a song colloquially referred to as "the Black national anthem" before a Week 1 game, ESPN reported.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing" (or, in some spellings, "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing") was written as a poem in 1900 and set to music in 1905. In 1919, the NAACP declared the song, which can be heard here, "The Negro National Anthem," and indeed, it has come to be embraced by the African American community in the century since.

"Lift ev'ry voice and sing'Til earth and heaven ringRing with the harmonies of LibertyLet our rejoicing riseHigh as the list'ning skies"
An unidentified source familiar with the matter said that the league plans to play the song before the Kansas City Chiefs play the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium on September 10. The "Black national anthem" would be followed by the actual national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," as the song has customarily been played before sporting events for over a century.

Furthermore, the league is also looking at unspecified other ways to recognize victims of police brutality throughout the season, the source says. One option reportedly on the table is listing the names of victims of police brutality on uniforms through decals on helmets or patches on jerseys. Another involves the NFL purportedly sponsoring educational programs about such victims.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 20: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs stands for the national anthem prior to the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Arrowhead Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images | Jamie Squire

Meanwhile, the league plans to donate $250 million to various social justice programs over the next 10 years.

These moves come as the NFL, in the wake of the George Floyd protests, has taken a hard look at its own handling of race-related issues.

In early June, as Sports Illustrated reported at the time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that the league had failed to listen to what then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was saying when he famously started the trend of players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

"We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter," he said.

When the NFL plays "Lift Every Voice and Sing," there may not actually be fans in attendance to sing the song along with the performers. The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively shut down all large gatherings, including sports. However, the NFL is the only major sports league to not have its season curtailed by the pandemic yet, having concluded its previous season just a few weeks before the full gravity and seriousness of the pandemic became known.