John Carucci, Associated Press, July 2, 2021
When Vanessa Williams hosts this year’s televised Capitol Fourth celebration, she will not only honor the nation’s traditional independence day, but also the country’s newly designated holiday — Juneteenth.
Williams, who was the first Black woman to be crowned Miss America, will sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which has served as the Black National Anthem.
“It’s in celebration of the wonderful opportunity that we now have to celebrate Juneteenth. So we are reflective of the times,” she told the Associated Press on Thursday while promoting this year’s show.
“A Capitol Fourth” is marking 41 years on the air. The show is broadcast to millions of viewers on PBS and streaming platforms as well as troops around the globe.
Williams serves as host this year but it’s not be the first time that she‘s brought current social changes to the festivities. At last year’s show, Williams said her musical selections expressed the angst that Black women — especially mothers — were feeling.
She sang the Stephen Sondheim song, “Not While I’m Around,” from his musical “Sweeney Todd,” an attempt to communicate what she was feeling as the mother of a Black son.
The song “talked about just the connection that you have with your child and wanting to protect them, which was definitely reflective of George Floyd and how everybody felt that pain,” Williams said.