Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) on Sunday criticized the Super Bowl crowd for not standing during the performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” widely known as the Black National Anthem.
“Very very few stood at Super Bowl for ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’. The Negro National Anthem,” Cohen wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“Not a pretty picture of Super Bowl crowd,” he added.
This year marked the second time the anthem was performed in an official capacity at the Super Bowl. The anthem was performed by Grammy-winner Andra Day, and Reba McEntire performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The Black National Anthem was originally written as a poem by former NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900. Last year, it was performed for the first time at a Super Bowl by Emmy-winner Sheryl Lee Ralph, following heightened scrutiny of the traditional national anthem’s connection to race and slavery.
Cohen, who represents Memphis, Tenn., in Congress, defended his original statement in response to some criticism in the replies to his post.
“I stand for both,” Cohen said, in response to an X user who said people should only stand for the traditional national anthem. “And in Memphis, most do.”
Cohen responded to a different user who said the traditional national anthem “doesn’t see color” and who criticized Democrats for “dividing this country with race wars.”
“Well, I honor our national anthem and respect it as representing our country and in our pride in it,” Cohen wrote. “However if you look at the history and some of the verbiage, it does relate to slavery and not in a questioning manner.”
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Author: Sarah Fortinsky