Super Bowl LVIII to Feature Black National Anthem, Sparks Social Media Debate

Exploring deep-seated issues in America's sports and culture.

by Nouman Rasool
Super Bowl LVIII to Feature Black National Anthem, Sparks Social Media Debate
© Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The National Football League (NFL) recently unveiled its pregame entertainment for Super Bowl LVIII, igniting a mix of reactions with its decision to include "Lift Every Voice and Sing," often referred to as the Black national anthem.

Grammy award-winning R&B artist Andra Day is set to perform the song, which has been a feature of the Super Bowl since LV, sparking ongoing debates on social media platforms. This tradition, initiated in the wake of George Floyd's death in 2020 and the subsequent nationwide movement against racial injustice, continues to be a topic of discussion among fans and critics alike.

Radio personality Larry Elder expressed his skepticism, humorously suggesting the inclusion of the University of Michigan's fight song, while another NFL fan questioned the necessity of the anthem on ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s social media post.

Anthem's Controversial Roots

Controversy further escalated as some pondered the concept of a "White national anthem." Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones responded by highlighting the historical context of "The Star-Spangled Banner," composed by Francis Scott Key, a figure known for his pro-slavery stance.

Hannah-Jones pointed to a 2016 Smithsonian article detailing Key's background and the late adoption of the anthem in the 1930s, partly due to its racially insensitive lyrics. Her response aimed to address historical misconceptions while commenting on ongoing societal grievances.

The NAACP's promotion of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" as the Black national anthem dates back to 1917, symbolizing a century-long recognition of the song in African American culture. The NFL's decision to incorporate this anthem into the Super Bowl's opening ceremonies reflects an ongoing effort to acknowledge and address racial issues within the United States.

Adding to the star-studded lineup, country music icon Reba McEntire is slated to perform the national anthem, and renowned artist Post Malone will present "America the Beautiful," ensuring a diverse musical representation that mirrors the complexity and breadth of American culture.

As Super Bowl LVIII approaches, the NFL's programming choices continue to spark conversations, reflecting the evolving dialogue around race, history, and national identity in American sports and society.

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