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Super Bowl LVII Pregame

Sheryl Lee Ralph performs the Black National Anthem during Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona. | Source: Kevin Mazur / Getty

A “so-called” local news outlet in Arkansas has issued an apology after it tweeted disrespectfully about the Black National Anthem being performed before Super Bowl LVII on Sunday night.

The apology came hours after the tweet not only made an incorrect reference to the song’s title, “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” but also seemingly questioned the legitimacy of the song itself. All during Black History Month, no less…

It all apparently started out innocently enough with KARK News publishing an article with the headline, “Black National Anthem performed at Super Bowl for first time.” But that innocence took a decided turn toward guilt when the person handling KARK’s social media content tweeted the article with some choice words:

“The performance of ‘Raise Your Voice and Sing” at Sunday’s Super Bowl marks the first time the so-called Black National Anthem has been performed on-field at the NFL’s championship game.”

Eagle-eyed Twitter users quickly noticed what KARK’s social media manager apparently had not: The tweet first called the Black National Anthem by the wrong name and then had the audacity to call its validity into question by using the words “so-called.”

The backlash was swift, prompting the NBC affiliate in Little Rock to publish a news article on Monday morning indicating that the tweet “never should have happened.”

“We should have proofed this story and made the appropriate changes instead of posting the version that was shared with us,” KARK said in part of its apology. “We apologize to anyone this may have hurt, upset or angered. Please know that we are deeply sorry for this oversight.”

Adding insult to the metaphorical injuries is the fact that actress Sheryl Lee Ralph was performing “Lift Every Voice And Sing” on the 100th anniversary of the day it was first performed. Such a lack of historic knowledge only exacerbates existing criticism about diversity in the media.

Conspicuously missing from KARK’s apology was any mention of the employee responsible for typing those fateful words.

KARK’s unfortunate tweet joined other criticism of “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” notably led by far-right conservatives who uphold white nationalism while ironically failing to understand the need for a separate national anthem.

What is the ‘Black National Anthem’?

For the uninitiated, “Lift Every Voice And Sing” in its original form was a poem written by literary pioneer James Weldon Johnson. It is often dubbed “The Black National Anthem.” The poem was originally performed in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 1900, and was later set to music in 1905 by Johnson’s brother John Rosamond.

For many African Americans, singing the song was their way of showing patriotism and hope for the future, considering the plight of racism they greatly faced. Deep symbolism was found in its lyrics, allowing African-Americans to subtly speak against racial bigotry. It is heavily performed at predominately African-American venues, especially in Black churches across the nation.

In 1990, singer Melba Moore released a modern rendition of the song, which she recorded along with others including recording artists Anita Baker, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick, Bobby Brown, Stevie Wonder, Jeffrey Osborne, Howard Hewett BeBe & CeCe and The Clark Sisters.

Today the song is an integral piece of Black patriotism. KARK just found that out a little too late.


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