NFL to Play Black National Anthem Before Games

Andy Berg Headshot

The NFL is hoping to repair its image when it comes to cultural sensitivity, promising to bring back elements of social justice initiatives it began implementing last year.

Along with on-field signage and decals on player helmets, the league said it will be playing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, before every game in 2021. The song was written by civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson and composed by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1900. The NAACP says the song became a rallying cry for Black Americans during the Civil Rights Movement.

The league will also be launching social justice stadium PSAs this year.

Related: NFL to End ‘Race-Norming’ in Brain Injury Settlements

The move comes after it was revealed that the NFL was using “race-norming” to settled concussion lawsuits. The practice assumed that Black players started out with lower cognitive functioning, which made it harder for them to qualify for settlement money.

Black players make up nearly a quarter of the league.

The NFL said that it has invested $250 million in its social justice initiatives, while also consulting with rapper and business mogul Jay-Z on its Inspire Change initiative.

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