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Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Celebration of the Negro National Anthem; 100 Years, 100 Voices Hardcover


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100 M&T
100 Mysteries & Thrillers to Read in a Lifetime
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (October 31, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679463151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679463153
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,514,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If African Americans are, as some have proposed, a "nation within a nation," then the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is their anthem. Written in 1900 by the brilliant civil rights leader and author James Weldon Johnson and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson, it was the official song of the NAACP from the 1920s through the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s. During that time, it was sung by millions of black children and even printed in family bibles. This book, edited by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and scholar Sondra Kathryn Wilson, celebrates the song through the testimonials of 100 prominent black and white legislators, politicians, educators, writers, and performers, whose "essays build a multifaceted narrative that elucidates the value and profundity of a song that has vibrantly endured for one hundred years."

Filmmaker Gordon Parks writes that the song "soars from the depths of our history," and that "it urges us to keep moving on until equality and freedom surround us with the oneness of the sky." For music icon Quincy Jones, the Johnson brothers "gave us this noble song to soothe our emotional wounds while, simultaneously, lifting our spirits." Ilyasah Shabazz, Malcolm X's daughter, says the composition "still serves as a reminder of our ancestors and our historical experiences in America." Testimonies from Norman Lear, Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters add further proof of the power and passion of this song, which speaks to the highest ideals of American democracy. --Eugene Holley Jr.

From Booklist

As inspiring as the song it commemorates, this book's publication will correspond with the centennial anniversary of Lift Every Voice and Sing, also known as the Negro National Anthem. James Weldon Johnson and his brother, Rosamond Johnson, composed the song four years after Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decision that institutionalized U.S. racism through the separate-but-equal doctrine. The book contains 100 essays by entertainers, scholars, writers, rap artists, and others on the significance of the song in the struggle for racial justice. Amiri Baraka notes its blossoming beauty. Maya Angelou recalls a childhood memory of black parents and students standing to sing the song in protest when it was announced that black schools in Stamps, Arkansas, would get more domestic training for lives as servants while white schools would get science labs. Other authors include Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Jesse Jackson, and Bill Cosby. In commemorating the song, Bond and Wilson also present a pictorial history of race in the U.S., with powerful photographs and inspiring social and cultural remembrances. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Mildred J. Hudson on December 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Julian Bond and Sondra K. Wilson have blazed a trail in editing this book. Mostly well-known Americans, but also some hidden gems, share with the reader what the Johnson brothers' song means to them.
And it means a lot to a cross section of Americans. One friend noted that if you read the book in one setting, as she did, you get a clear sense of how African American families taught their children to be revolutionaries. These children were taught about their history, and they were given the tools to dream and do something about their future. They had no choice; they had to march on until victory was won! And they did, from shacks in Mississippi, middle-class homes in Chicago and upper-class environments in Hollywood (where they often still could not get a decent meal in a restaurant), they were taught to fight for their freedom. They marched on--on buses, at "white only" lunch counters, over bridges with dogs and police daring them to cross,down lonely country roads with the KKK looking on--and though hundreds of marches, they fulfilled the dreams of their ancestors.
One of the real treasures of the book, besides the wonderful essays, is that one gets the sense, through exquisite historical photos, of how broad the African American experience is and continues to be. There are poor black women chopping cotton, and black men being killed. But there are also photograpshs of young black women on horseback in the 1950s, muslim women at a mosque, photographs of Muhammad Ali, James Weldon Johnson and his wife looking lovingly at each other, proud black women on their way to church and young children all dressed up to perform in some special show for their parents.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kathie on December 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I admit that I intended to purchased this book simply because my grandmother, Jeanne Belle Osby Goodwin is one of the featured 100 voices. But as I read through some of the other essays, the song and the thousands of voices that I have heard sing its choruses filled my heart and mind with such glory. This book became a must have book for my loved ones. "Sing a song full of the hope..." We are a people of many trials and tribulations. This song, and the written words of the 100 serve as potent reminders that we can,do and will persevere- to sweet victory!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Rev. Dr. Daniel J. G. G. Block on March 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In 1900 James Weldon Johnson, and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson, wrote a song for a chorus of five hundred black school children, in Jacksonville, Florida, to sing in celebration of Lincoln's birthday. The song was originally published by mimeograph, and intended only for that year's remembrance of President Lincoln. Yet, the black school children of Jacksonville kept singing. ...and because the song reflected the truth of the black experience in America, the chorus swelled from five hundred to millions of voices. Today "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is alternately referred to as the "Black National Anthem"
Deeply patriotic, and clinging to a vision of an America healed of the scourge of racism, the brothers Johnson answered Francis Scott Key's anthem with realism, pathos, and hope. Whereas Key's song speaks of the external, military enemy, the Johnsons' chorus speaks of the more insidious internal enemy of racism. Whereas Key wrote of liberty already won and now demanding defense, the Johnsons wrote of liberty delayed, eventually promised, seen, but not yet fully acheived.
In this anthology, the editors give us an history of this deeply moving piece of music, and a chronology of its authors. They also give us one hundred short reponses to the song -- almost meditations -- by Americans of every skin hue. Finally, the text includes a pictoral display of the 20th century, American, black experience which is a treasure in and of itself.
This is more than a coffee table book. This is a book for all Americans to read and re-read: for in this text are planted the seeds of tolerance and understanding which our nation so desperately requires.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of course, another fantastic book that Bond has put together! It should be in every school's history class. I am still enjoying it!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is educational for those who that take the time to read it. Since receiving it, I have not been able to put it down. This is a blessing for me and my children.
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