James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson worked together their whole lives, first in show business and later in the pursuit of civil rights. They both saw artistic and cultural excellence as a key to Black advancement in America. At the time he wrote this song in , he was the principal of the segregated Stanton School in Jacksonville, Florida. That's where the hymn debuted the following year, sung by children at an event celebrating Black history. During his long musical career, Johnson composed and performed in stage musicals and operettas, and his work spanned multiple genres from vaudeville and traditional theater to spirituals and other deeply-rooted African American traditions. The "Liberty" of which James Weldon Johnson wrote included the rights and protections that citizens of African descent in the United States were promised but had yet to receive. Although written more than a generation after the enslaved emancipated themselves during the US Civil War, the song spoke to a world rife with Jim Crow segregation and the threat of mob violence and lynching. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,. Captives being brought on board a slave ship on the west coast of Africa, circa
Why the Black National Anthem Is Lifting Every Voice to Sing
More by James Weldon Johnson
Rosamond Johnson — , for Lincoln 's birthday in The song is a prayer of thanksgiving for faithfulness and freedom, with imagery evoking the biblical Exodus from slavery to the freedom of the "promised land. Savage did not have funds to have it cast in bronze or to move and store it. Like other Fair temporary installations, the sculpture was destroyed at the close of the fair. It was added to the National Recording Registry in The film Keep Punching features the song. In Maya Angelou 's autobiography , I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , the song is sung by the audience and students at Maya's eighth-grade graduation, after a white school official dashes the educational aspirations of her class. This performance was included in the film Wattstax made by Wolper Films. The music direction and recording was overseen by Stax Records engineer Terry Manning.
Who wrote it
Scroll for more about Johnson below. Stony the road we trod, Bitter the chastening rod, Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; Yet with a steady beat, Have not our weary feet Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee, Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee; Shadowed beneath Thy hand, May we forever stand, True to our God, True to our native land. In he was the first African American to be chosen as executive secretary of the organization, effectively the operating officer. He served in that position from to Johnson established his reputation as a writer, and was known during the Harlem Renaissance for his poems, novels, and anthologies collecting both poems and spirituals of black culture. Later in life he served as a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University, a historically black university.
Lift every voice and sing Till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; Let our rejoicing rise High as the listening skies, Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us, Facing the rising sun of our new day begun Let us march on till victory is won. Stony the road we trod, Bitter the chastening rod, Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; Yet with a steady beat, Have not our weary feet Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?