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Conservatives Furious After Vanessa Williams Sings 'Black National Anthem' At Capitol 4th Event

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

Actress and singer Vanessa Williams hosted "A Capitol Fourth" on PBS where she ended the event singing what is called the Black National Anthem.

The song "Lift Every Voice and Sing," was a hymn written by former NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900 along with his brother, John Rosamond Johnson. Today, it's known to be the Black National Anthem as it rose to popularity during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

You can see her performance here:

youtu.be

Vanessa Williams dedicated the song by saying:

"As I prepare to sing this next song, I am filled with the spirit of freedom and the perseverance that is required to achieve that most precious right."
"I dedicate this to my ancestors, to our new federal holiday, Juneteenth, and to all who celebrate freedom."

It was no secret the Black National Anthem would be sung during the event.

Last Thursday, Williams told Associated Press:

"It's in celebration of the wonderful opportunity that we now have to celebrate Juneteenth. So we are reflective of the times."
"And I'm happy to be apart of a tremendous show where the producers are aware and willing to make the changes that have happen within the last year and a half."

Williams reflected on her history with the PBS event over the years. Just last year she sang the song "Not While I'm Around," from the musical Sweeney Todd.

She chose that song to represent the feelings held by Black mothers after the murder of George Floyd.

"[The song] talked about just the connection that you have with your child and wanting to protect them, which was definitely reflective of George Floyd and how everybody felt that pain."

But conservatives seem to be upset over the choice to sing the Black National Anthem.


Vanessa Williams has not yet commented on the controversy over the inclusion of the song in this year's event.