American singer and songwriter Andra Day has formally joined a historic line of annual pre-Super Bowl performances by singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” ahead of the 2024 Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
The Grammy winner and past Oscar nominee took to the field with six backing singers, all dressed in black.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was written by James Weldon Johnson, a civil rights fighter, in 1900. The song is recognised as “Black national anthem” for African-Americans since the “lyrics eloquently captured the solemn yet hopeful appeal for the liberty of Black Americans”.
According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the hymn was “prominently used as a rallying cry during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.”
Super Bowl fans left split by Andra Day’s performance
While Andra Day received a rousing ovation from the fans for her stunning performance at the stadium, few sports fans slammed the league for having the Black national anthem performed. Echoing similar sentiments, some Republican lawmakers and political experts have even threatened to boycott the game.
“There is no such thing as a “Black National Anthem“,” one X user wrote. “If you have a problem with the AMERICAN National Anthem, feel free to leave,” another added.
Meanwhile, Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, tweeted out an exchange he had with his spouse on their decision to skip watching the Super Bowl.
“They’re desecrating America’s National Anthem by playing something called the ‘Black National Anthem’,” he stated.
New York representative Ritchie Torres (D) quote tweeted Gaetz’s post, stating, “The Black National Anthem – “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – has been a part of our Nation’s history since the early 20th century. The erasure of African American history as American history is a form of racism that runs deep on the far right.”
A Republican legislator of the Ohio House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Loychik, said, “it’s a disgrace that the NFL decided to push the politics of racial division again.”
“There’s no such thing as a black national anthem. We are all AMERICANS, united by our great and beautiful Star Spangled Banner. The Super Bowl is supposed to bring us together,” he wrote on X.
“No such thing as a “Black National Anthem”. The end,” politician Graham Allen wrote.
“Before tonight’s Super Bowl, as a young black man and proud American, let me make myself clear: There is only ONE national anthem. As there is only ONE United States of America. And it’s for EVERYONE – white, black, yellow, and even maroon. The Left’s agenda of division isn’t just needless; it’s exhausting,” Conservative pundit CJ Pearson wrote on X.
Some netizens mocked the outrage, with one X user saying, “time for the obligatory “WHY ARE THERE TWO NATIONAL ANTHEMS THATS SO DIVISIVE WHATS A BLACK NATIONAL ANTHEM AAAAAAAAA WE’RE ALL AMERICANS” tweets. Shoutout Andra Day tho she fire.”
“That was a Black National Anthem to remember… amazing from Andra Day and everyone up there,” another wrote.
The NFL announced that the song would be played or performed during the pregame festivities for the opening week of the 2020 season in response to the George Floyd protests that summer.
Day is the second Black musician in the history to perform the ballad on a Super Bowl field just before kickoff, following Sheryl Lee Ralph’s incredible rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at State Farm Stadium in 2023. The tradition was started two years ago by Alicia Keys, who performed the national anthem in a pre-recorded video that was shown during the Super Bowl broadcast in 2021. Mary Mary then performed the honors from outside SoFi Stadium the following year.