Controversy erupts over photo of Kari Lake seated during 'Black national anthem' performance at Super Bowl

 February 14, 2023

Former Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was in attendance at the NFL's Super Bowl on Sunday and went viral on social media for something she didn't do while at the big game, Fox News reported.

Lake sparked controversy and angered some on the left by remaining seated during the pre-game singing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a hymn dubbed the "Black national anthem."

Ironically, the same sort of people outraged by Lake sitting out that anthem are also the same sort who just a few years ago were staunchly defending the right to choose for NFL players and other athletes who took a knee or sat in protest during the pre-game playing of the original national anthem, the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Moment of controversy

Turning Point USA's Benny Johnson, among others, shared a photo on social media of Lake remaining seated as most others stood while actress Sheryl Lee Ralph performed "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Johnson wrote, "The @NFL played two different 'National Anthems' tonight. Someone just sent me a photo of @KariLake sitting during the first one."

In reply to Johnson's post, Lake later tweeted with an American flag emoji, "I'm just here for THE National Anthem."

History of the "Black National Anthem"

According to Business Insider, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was originally written as a poem in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as an ode to the spirit of optimism of Black Americans amid the ongoing oppression of racism and segregation following the Reconstruction period after the Civil War that ended several centuries of slavery in the United States.

The poem was later transformed into a song by Johnson's brother, composer and singer J. Rosamond Johnson, and quickly began to spread among black communities across America, and in 1919 was adopted by the NAACP and dubbed the "Negro National Anthem."

That was actually about 12 years before the "Star-Spangled Banner," which was first penned by Francis Scott Key in 1814 during the War of 1812 with Great Britain, was adopted as the national anthem for all Americans in 1931.

Insider noted that Johnson's song enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in 2020 during the wave of protests and riots that sprung up after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis and has since been performed as part of the pre-game festivities at numerous sporting events and major gatherings.

A "beautiful song," but not a national anthem

While some people have cheered the inclusion of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" alongside the "Star-Spangled Banner" as a second national anthem for Black Americans, others have criticized that as unnecessarily divisive and emblematic of the racial segregation of the past.

In a statement to Fox News, Lake said, "I'm against a 'black National Anthem' for the same reason I am against a 'white National Anthem,' a 'gay National Anthem,' a 'straight National Anthem,' a 'Jewish National Anthem,' a 'Christian National Anthem,' and so on."

"We are ONE NATION, under God. Francis Scott Key's words ring true for every single American Citizen regardless of their skin color," she added. "James Weldon Johnson's 'Lift Your Voice' is a beautiful song, but it is not our National Anthem."

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