Actress and singer Vanessa Williams is slated to perform the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing," considered the "Black national anthem," as part of the "Capitol Fourth" celebration which will be broadcasted by PBS on Sunday.
Williams is also famous for being the first African-American woman to win the coveted Miss America crown. The show itself this year will be broadcasted on Sunday, but will not be live, because of constraints due to the pandemic.
The song itself was originally written in the year 1900 by James Weldon Johnson. It started out as a poem, but his brother Jon Rosamond Johnson later was inspired to set it to music. The words are said to evoke "the history of the journey of African-Americans and for many Africans in the diaspora [who] struggled to get to a place of hope," according to NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson.
The song has been a staple hymn of African-American church congregations since its composing, and was widely sung in 1960s civil rights marches and protests.
Williams said when interviewed that the song places her in touch with "just the connection that you have with your child and wanting to protect them, which was definitely reflective of George Floyd and how everybody felt that pain."
"It's in celebration of the wonderful opportunity that we now have to celebrate Juneteenth. So we are reflective of the times," concluded Williams.
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