Children's Books about Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Song of Liberation and Affirmation
Updated: Feb 13
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"Lift Every Voice and Sing" is a powerful part of American history. It was written and composed by two influential brothers from Jacksonville, Florida named James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson.
The hymn, known as the Black National Anthem, is a rallying cry, a history lesson, and a pledge of unity. These children's books teach about the song's powerful legacy.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.
In Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers, one of them the principal of a segregated, all-black school, wrote the song Lift Every Voice and Sing so his students could sing it for a tribute to Abraham Lincoln's birthday in 1900. From that moment on, the song has provided inspiration and solace for generations of Black families. Mothers and fathers passed it on to their children who sang it to their children and grandchildren. Known as the Black National Anthem, it has been sung during major moments of the Civil Rights Movement and at family gatherings and college graduations.
Inspired by this song's enduring significance, Kelly Starling Lyons and Keith Mallett tell a story about the generations of families who gained hope and strength from the song's inspiring words. Learn more about it here.
Download the Sing a Song activity guide that accompanies the book by Kelly Starling Lyons
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.
Written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" has become an anthem for African Americans in the struggle for equality.
Bryan Collier's vibrant, stunning artwork offers an inspirational and rousing interpretation of this powerful song that continues to influence and shape new generations of children today. Learn more about it here.
This selection of more than forty poems from a leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance includes both uncompromising indictments of racial injustice and celebrations of the triumphs of African-Americans.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. Learn more about it here.
Lift Every Voice and Sing
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.
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