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*On this date in 1900, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” also known as the Negro National Anthem and the Negro National Hymn, was sung publicly for the first time.
Written by James Weldon Johnson with music by J. Rosamond Johnson, the occasion was a celebration of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln at the Colored High School in Jacksonville, Fla. In 1926, Johnson acknowledged that the song was not written as an expression of African American solidarity.
He said, “the song not only epitomizes the history of the race and its present condition but voices their hope for the future.”