Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations

by Kelly Starling Lyons and Keith Mallett

“Before you were born, a girl learned a song.” She sang that song, written... read more

“Before you were born, a girl learned a song.” She sang that song, written by her principal and his brother, as part of a chorus of 500 at a special event in 1900: “Lift ev’ry voice and sing, / Till earth and heaven ring, / Ring with the harmonies of Liberty …” She grew up and taught it to her own child. He passed it on to his daughter, who taught it to her son, who sang it to his daughter, who joins a chorus on the National Mall in 2016 to sing it at the opening of the National Museum of African American History. The fictional generations of one family finding solace and inspiration in “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” across personal milestones and historic events in the 20th century and early 21 st century ground this deeply moving account of the song known as the “Black National Anthem,” passed down among generations of African Americans. An author’s note tells more about the song, including personal memories, and its writers— James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson. (Ages 6–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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