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This Retired Howard Professor Wants "Lift Every Voice and Sing" to Inspire Americans

Historians in the News
tags: African American history, music, Howard University, Eugene Williams Sr.



“Alexa, play that song again.”

Trumpets blare from the device’s speakers. Eugene Williams Sr. closes his eyes and lets the smooth, funky voice of 1960s soul singer Kim Weston fill his living room:

“Lift every voice and sing/ Till earth and heaven ring/ Ring with the harmonies of Liberty . . .”

The lyrics transport the 77-year-old from his home in Clinton, Md., back to his 1950s childhood in Orange, Va., where he grew up poor with eight siblings. Williams attended a segregated school where students were required to learn the words to “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” a song widely known as the “Black National Anthem” that was written by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson.

Williams, a retired Howard University professor, calls it his “freedom song.”

“As a black American, it makes me feel powerful and recognized,” Williams said. “I don’t feel recognized by our national anthem.”

Read entire article at Washington Post

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