Correction: “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is widely considered to be the Black National Anthem. A previous story inadequately recognized its importance. This story has been revised to reflect its significance. We apologize and regret the error.
The performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at Sunday’s Super Bowl marks the first time the song, widely considered as the Black National Anthem, has been performed on-field at the NFL’s championship game.
Actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph belted out the song prior to kickoff on Sunday.
“It is no coincidence that I will be singing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing at the Super Bowl on the same date it was first publicly performed 123 years ago (February 12, 1900),” the “Abbott Elementary” star wrote on Twitter prior to her performance.
“Happy Black History Month,” Ralph added.
The historic performance was the first time the song has been performed in an official capacity on a Super Bowl game field. Two years ago, Alicia Keys first performed the ballad during a pre-recorded Super Bowl broadcast. In 2022, singer Mary Mary gave a performance of the song from outside of the Super Bowl stadium in Inglewood, Calif., notes Billboard.
The anthem, written by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson, rose to prominence during the Civil Rights Movement when it was commonly used as a “rallying cry,” notes the NAACP.
The song was performed on Sunday prior to the National Anthem, which was sung by country star Chris Stapleton.
Rep. Lauren Boebert took issue with the performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” writing in a tweet, “America only has ONE NATIONAL ANTHEM.”
She added, “Why is the NFL trying to divide us by playing multiple!? Do football, not wokeness.”
Ralph praised the NFL for its decision during a Feb. 9 press conference.
“To me, that shows a major effort by the NFL to be truly inclusive, to say, ‘We’re going to represent all people,'” she said. “What a way to bring us all together.”
This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. on Feb. 13.