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Lift Every Voice and Sing

A Celebration of the Negro National Anthem; 100 Years, 100 Voices

By , (Editor)

eBook published by Random House (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
"A group of young men in Jacksonville, Florida, arranged to celebrate Lincoln's birthday in 1900. My brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, and I decided to write a song to be sung at the exercise. I wrote the words and he wrote the music. Our New York publisher, Edward B. Marks, made mimeographed copies for us and the song was taught to and sung by a chorus of five hundred colored school children.

"Shortly afterwards my brother and I moved from Jacksonville to New York, and the song passed out of our minds. But the school children of Jacksonville kept singing it, they went off to other schools and sang it, they became teachers and taught it to other children. Within twenty years it was being sung over the South and in some other parts of the country. Today, the song, popularly known as the Negro National Hymn, is quite generally used.

"The lines of this song repay me in elation, almost of exquisite anguish, whenever I hear them sung by Negro children."        

—James Weldon Johnson, 1935

Pasted into Bibles, schoolbooks, and hearts, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," written by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson in 1900, has become one of the most beloved songs in the African American community—taught for years in schools, churches, and civic organizations. Adopted by the NAACP as its official song in the 1920s and sung throughout the civil rights movement, it is still heard today at gatherings across America.

James Weldon Johnson's lyrics pay homage to a history of struggle but never waver from a sense of optimism for the future—"facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won." Its message of hope and strength has made "Lift Every Voice and Sing" a source of inspiration for generations.

In celebration of the song's centennial, Julian Bond and Sondra Kathryn Wilson have collected one hundred essays by artists, educators, politicians, and activists reflecting on their personal experiences with the song. Also featuring photos from historical archives, Lift Every Voice and Sing is a moving illustration of the African American experience in the past century.

With contributors including John Hope Franklin, Jesse Jackson, Maya Angelou, Norman Lear, Maxine Waters, and Percy Sutton, this volume is a personal tribute to the enduring power of an anthem. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" has touched the hearts of many who have heard it because its true aim, as Harry Belafonte explains, "isn't just to show life as it is but to show life as it should be."
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"A group of young men in Jacksonville, Florida, arranged to celebrate Lincoln's birthday in 1900. My brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, and I decided to write a song to be sung at the exercise. I wrote the words and he wrote the music. Our New York publisher, Edward B. Marks, made mimeographed copies for us and the song was taught to and sung by a chorus of five hundred colored school children.

"Shortly afterwards my brother and I moved from Jacksonville to New York, and the song passed out of our minds. But the school children of Jacksonville kept singing it, they went off to other schools and sang it, they became teachers and taught it to other children. Within twenty years it was being sung over the South and in some other parts of the country. Today, the song, popularly known as the Negro National Hymn, is quite generally used.

"The lines of this song repay me in elation, almost of exquisite anguish, whenever I hear them sung by Negro children."        

—James Weldon Johnson, 1935

Pasted into Bibles, schoolbooks, and hearts, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," written by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson in 1900, has become one of the most beloved songs in the African American community—taught for years in schools, churches, and civic organizations. Adopted by the NAACP as its official song in the 1920s and sung throughout the civil rights movement, it is still heard today at gatherings across America.

James Weldon Johnson's lyrics pay homage to a history of struggle but never waver from a sense of optimism for the future—"facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won." Its message of hope and strength has made "Lift Every Voice and Sing" a source of inspiration for generations.

In celebration of the song's centennial, Julian Bond and Sondra Kathryn Wilson have collected one hundred essays by artists, educators, politicians, and activists reflecting on their personal experiences with the song. Also featuring photos from historical archives, Lift Every Voice and Sing is a moving illustration of the African American experience in the past century.

With contributors including John Hope Franklin, Jesse Jackson, Maya Angelou, Norman Lear, Maxine Waters, and Percy Sutton, this volume is a personal tribute to the enduring power of an anthem. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" has touched the hearts of many who have heard it because its true aim, as Harry Belafonte explains, "isn't just to show life as it is but to show life as it should be."
Product Details
eBook (304 pages)
Published: February 1, 2001
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House
ISBN: 9780375506468
Other books byJulian Bond
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    The original publication of Letters from Mississippi in 1965 was an immediate record of the mostly white volunteers in the Mississippi Summer Voting Project of 1964 ("Freedom Summer"). It went out of print in 1970. The 2002 edition of the book took the original text and placed it in a context of the history of the civil rights movement, of the broader scene in Mississippi during that summer, and of the subsequent lives of the volunteers. That edition has become a staple in studies of the civil rights movement, but it still focuses mostly on the "outsiders" in their Mississippi communities. This fiftieth anniversary edition includes: expanded biographical notes from previous editions, additional biographies of contributors to the original book, expanded notes, and a filmography. The result is a wider resource for scholarship as well as for a general understanding of this critical moment in civil rights history. Elizabeth Martínez has published six books and numerous articles on popular struggles in the Americas including De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century. Julian Bond has served four terms on the NAACP National Board and since 1998 has been board chairman. He was president of the Atlanta NAACP from 1978 until 1989.

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    Taking its title from the moving lyrics of the official song of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," Till Victory Is Won chronicles significant moments in African-American history through more than two hundred illuminating quotations from NAACP officers, members, and award recipients. Focusing on five major topics -- Protecting Civil Rights, Achieving Educational Excellence, Nurturing Economic Development, Reaching Youth, and Gaining Political Power -- this extraordinary anthology inspires and informs. Featured voices include: Kweisi Mfume Duke Ellington Rosa Parks Hank Aaron Carter G. Woodson W.E.B. Du Bois Thurgood Marshall Maya Angelou Harry Belafonte Sidney Poitier Sara Lawrence Lightfoot Martin Luther King Jr. Halle Berry Michael Jordan Earvin (Magic) Johnson Colin Powell George Washington Carver Jesse Jackson Oprah Winfrey Lauryn Hill Henry Louis Gates Jr. Toni Morrison Susan Taylor Langston Hughes Jackie Robinson Quincy Jones Alice Walker Spike Lee Cornel West Patti LaBelle James Earl Jones ...and countless others who share their perspectives on the life-changing work of the NAACP and its place in history.

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