HBO “Real Time” host Bill Maher slammed the National Football League during his show Friday night, saying in response to an Alicia Keys performance shown before kickoff Thursday that the league shouldn’t be playing the song known as the black national anthem before events.
“I saw last night on the football game, Alicia Keys sang ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ which now I hear is called the black national anthem. Now, maybe we should get rid of our national anthem, but I think we should have one national anthem,” emphasized Maher.
“I think when you go down a road where you’re having two different national anthems, colleges sometimes now have — many of them have different graduation ceremonies for black and white, separate dorms — this is what I mean! Segregation! You’ve inverted the idea. We’re going back to that under a different name,” he added.
The words to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” are from a poem by James Weldon Johnson. It was later crafted into a song, and in about the 1920s, it was “adopted by the NAACP as the official Negro National Anthem,” according to Smithsonian Magazine.
“Within twenty years, it was being sung over the South and in some other parts of the country,” wrote Weldon Johnson of the song in 1935. “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.”
More recently, however, the NFL has announced that they will perform the song in conjunction with The Star-Spangled Banner as part of their social justice commitments. As Daily Wire sports reporter Joe Morgan briefly noted on Friday following NFL kickoff:
To kick off the NFL season, a video of Alicia Keys singing “Lift Every Voice And Sing” was played in the stadium with the help of the Florida A&M Concert Choir. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played shortly after.
“Tonight, the NFL as it did last year will present ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ also known as the black national anthem,” NBC’s Mike Tirico said during the broadcast Thursday. “And it will happen at several league events during the year — the NFL continuing the attention around social justice causes.”
According to a report by Front Office Sports, “The NFL also plans to make ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ — often referred to as the Black national anthem — a prominent part of all big league events.”
During his show Friday, Maher acknowledged that he has been hitting the political Left lately and that he’s been doing so because they’ve been “embarrassing me.” He added, “that’s why I’m going after the Left.”
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