“Lift Every Voice and Sing,” made its debut before the NFL season opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys.
Black National Anthem
The Black National Anthem was performed by the FAMU Gospel Choir at Raymond James Stadium. The song was written in the 1900’s by Civil Rights activist James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson. It became a “rallying cry” for African-Americans during the Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
NFL Finally Joins Social Justice Train
Earlier this year, the NFL decided to continue with a number of social justice changes that were instituted last season following widespread protests across the nation. Thousands hit the streets in protest of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020.
15-time Grammy Award winning recording artist Alicia Keys sang, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed at the Super Bowl in February. The Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both showed solidarity by linking arms with each other.
The NFL increased its social justice efforts in 2020 as a response to the growing Black Lives Matter movement.
The NBA and WNBA devoted their entire seasons to raising awareness for social justice and the plight of Black people in this country.
The NFL is kind of late to the party.
Still No Team Willing To Sign Colin Kaepernick
At the same time, the league continues to blackball Colin Kaepernick, so there are people who don’t buy it. They feel the NFL is one walking contradiction.
Kaepernick was blackballed from the league following his kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against systemic racism.
After years of fumbling the ball on Colin Kaepernick, the NFL is making a push to spotlight its social justice efforts — at least outwardly. Internally … well, that’s another issue. pic.twitter.com/zuxsZmOMeW
— The Recount (@therecount) September 3, 2021
The NBA Board of Governors pledged to spend $300 million on Black economic empowerment over the next decade. While MLB is said to be committing $150 million to boost Black representation in baseball.
According to the New York Times, the NFL will also allow players to display messages of social justice on their helmets.
Players can stencil the slogans “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” on the end zones at every field as part of an effort to show solidarity with the growing movements against racism, police brutality and systemic oppression, league officials said.
NFL players can wear social justice messages on their helmets again this season.
"It Takes All of Us" and "End Racism" will be stenciled in end zones for the second straight year as part of the league's Inspire Change platform. https://t.co/pHVN3wZ837 pic.twitter.com/cMACcm2GHM
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 2, 2021
As we witnessed in the first game of season on Thursday, players were allowed to choose a decal with one of six messages to place on the back of their helmets:
“End Racism,” “Stop Hate,” “It Takes All of Us,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Inspire Change” and “Say Their Stories.”
Last season, the N.F.L. also allowed players to display messages such as “Stop Hate” and “Black Lives Matter” on their helmets, as well as the names of Black people, such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery, whose deaths set off widespread protests.
The league is making an effort to show more sensitivity to issues that the players (who are 75 percent Black) value as important to their communities.