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The first NFL regular 2021 season matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened up Thursday with "Lift Every Voice and Sing," also known as the black national anthem.
The song, performed by singer Alicia Keys in conjunction with the historically black university Florida A&M Concert Choir, was aired ahead of the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa as teammates locked arms on the field. "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played afterward.
“Tonight, the NFL as it did last year will present 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,' also known as the Black national anthem,” NBC's Mike Tirico said during the broadcast Thursday. “And it will happen at several league events during the year — the NFL continuing the attention around social justice causes.”
League executives first decided to play the song, written in 1900 by civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson and celebrates the end of slavery, last year ahead of the first 2020 season games as racial justice protests responding to George Floyd's death continued to gain momentum and public support from various companies and organizations.
Florida A&M choir throwing down Lift Every Voice and Sing better known as the Black National Anthem..Both teams stayed on field and stand attention in both end zones#DALvsTB #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/WrZLxO1rRO
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) September 10, 2021
“We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter,” Goodell said in a video message in June 2020. “Without Black players, there would be no National Football League, and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of Black players coaches, fans and staff.”
The league announced this summer that it would play the song ahead of each game this season and continue with the presence of social justice messages on players' helmets and on playing fields.
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman
Original Location: NFL begins season opener with black national anthem