New York Daily News
Oh say can you see a new national anthem?
With racially insensitive statues being torn down nationwide, a music writer struck a chord Thursday by wondering if “The Star Spangled Banner” should represent the U.S. considering the politics of its author, Francis Scott Key. The conversation is sparking debate from sea to shining sea.
Citing a report form from the ACLU calling Key “an avowed white supremacist,” Yahoo! music writer Lyndsey Parker poised the inflammatory question in an article that notes a statue of the famed songwriter was toppled during a protest in San Francisco last week.
That report states Keys was raised by a slave-owning family in Maryland who allegedly characterized African-Americans as an “evil that afflicts a community.”
Yahoo! posed its question to historian and authors including Kevin Powell who said Keys was a close friend to President Andrew Jackson, whom Powell called the Donald Trump of his era.
“This was not just a person who just lived in the time period,” he said of Keys. “This is a person who helped define the time period.”
The story states “The Star-Spangled Banner” was inspired by a poem written by Key that included the line “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave/And The Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave/O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
It’s Powell’s feeling that if the patriotic soundtrack that became the national anthem in 1931 offends any part of society today, “It’s time to just throw it away.”
Powell wasn’t the only activist in the Yahoo! story who felt that way.
Historian Daniel E. Walker said it was time to rethink the tune played before sporting events where athletes frequently kneel in protest to civil rights violations and leans toward doing away with it.
“We do it first because we knew what we were doing and we wanted to be sexist and racist,” Walker told Yahoo! “Now we do it under the guise of ‘legacy.’”
Fox News contributor and former South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy expressed skepticism about the nation changing its tune to such a great extent.
“What started as a legitimate conversation about inequities in our justice system has now morphed into ‘Let’s just change the entire country and change the entire culture,’” Gowdy said, arguing “cancel culture” may be going too far.
Liana Morales of West Harlem’s Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts made news last week when she reportedly declined to sing the anthem at her school’s virtual graduation. Instead, she want with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which was first performed in 1900 to posthumously celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, according to PBS. The song is informally regarded by many as “the Black National Anthem.”
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