Group Calling National Anthem Lyrics Racist, Anti-Black

Shirin Rajaee, CBS Sacramento, November 7, 2107

The California NAACP is pushing to get rid of the national anthem that they’re calling racist and anti-black.

“This song is wrong; it shouldn’t have been there, we didn’t have it ’til 1931, so it won’t kill us if it goes away,” said the organization’s president Alice Huffman.

Colin Kaepernick started the NFL protests, which quickly spread to bring attention to systemic racial injustice in the country. But Huffman says Kaepernick’s message was lost when it turned into a debate about the flag.

“The message got distorted, the real intentions got overlooked, it became something that’s dividing us, and I’m looking for something to bring us back together,” she said.

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“It’s racist; it doesn’t represent our community, it’s anti-black,” she said.

Huffman is referring to the third stanza which includes the lyric “no refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

She says some interpretations conclude that the lyrics celebrate the deaths of black American slaves fighting for freedom, and the song should be replaced with something that supports all of our values.

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“It won’t solve any problem,” said veteran John Cox.

Huffman says it may not solve anything, but it’s a step towards social justice that she says is long overdue.

“This is not about the flag. We love the flag. This is about a song that should never have been the national anthem. This country is a country that has shared values, and the more we respect each other, the better off we’ll be as a country,” said Huffman.

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