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On February 12, 1900, 500 school children gathered at a segregated Stanton School, the principal at the time-James Weldon Johnson wrote a poem to welcome the guest speaker Booker T. Washington.

It was called “Lift every voice and sing.” What started as a poem ended as a song when Johnson’s brother John Rosamond Johnson set it to music soon after. “Lift Every Voice And Sing” was labeled “The Black National Anthem” in 1919 by the NAACP and served as a liberty cry for abused African Americans everywhere!

The  lyrics are as follows:

“Lift every voice and sing,
‘Til 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 past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ’til victory is won.”

Ray Charles sang an interesting rendition on the Dick Cavett Show on September 18, 1972.