Prior to February, I had struggled on how to highlight the music and compositions from that of African-American musicians and composers while integrating technology (I’m still evolving)…Sprial.ac and Flipgrid saved my life. Both technology platforms gave my students a voice that ignited conversation and passion beyond my expectations. I wanted them to understand that even the smallest contribution is significant to the evolution of music. By highlighting songs and elements from the jazz, hip hop, pop, and even rap genres, I was able to encourage collaboration with all of my students, no matter their race.
So on today, I wish to highlight James Weldon Johnson, author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, and songwriter. Johnson was born on June 17, 1871 in Florida. He is best remembered for his leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Johnson composed the lyrics of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” originally written for a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at Stanton School. This song became widely popular and has become known as the “Negro National Anthem. The song included the following lines:
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun as our new day begun.
Let us march on, till victory is won.