The song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing“, called the “black national anthem” by some, is among the most iconic in American history … and it has a Jacksonville connection.
James Weldon Johnson wrote the lyrics as a poem.
His brother set the words to music, and 117 years ago this month, the song was performed by 500 school children in the Johnsons’ hometown.
The song was soon thereafter adopted as the official song of the NAACP, and has offered inspiration for generations in the ongoing struggle for civil rights.
And now, State Rep. Tracie Davis seeks to ensure, via an appropriations bill, that the song is never forgotten by locals.
HB 3123 would appropriate $100,000 for the use of the Durkeeville Historical Society for the purposes of establishing a permanent historical location to commemorate the signature work of the Johnson brothers.
Conceivably, the park could serve as a tourist draw.
Beyond that, it would also serve as an educational tool for school children and for at-risk youth, asserts the appropriations request.