• Alisha “Tuff” Tuff • Knowledge is Power • February 16, 2023 •
In preschool, I went to a school called James McCosh (now called Emmett Louis Till Math and Science Academy). Emmett Till actually went to the school prior to his gruesome murder. The school was filled with Black memorabilia and pictures. It gave me a sense of pride as a kid seeing teachers and people who looked like me and also seeing the historical Black figures who paved the way for me.
I remember every morning singing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” at the top of our lungs while the teacher played the piano. Our teacher explained to us that kids just like us sang the song, and a man who looked like us wrote it for our families. The song made us feel strong, powerful and connected. I never forgot how singing that song made me feel.
To this day, I still feel pride when I hear the song. My favorite part is “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.” I love this part because the pitch of the melody and words to the song get louder during this part.
Additionally, as I got older, I began to love this part even more because it showed the beauty and ugly truths of our journey as a people, and I choose to honor that story every day. I also love the recent videos that have gone viral of young Black children beating on tables and dancing with joy as they sing the song. It reminds me of how my classmates and I did similar actions.
I hope to continue to see the song taught to generations to come! Songs like this unite us and make us feel strong. They can be healing and freeing.
[©2023, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the February 16, 2023, edition of Knowledge is Power by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]