Black ‘national anthem’ to be played at all top NFL games to mark its commitment to anti-racism

Down Judge Jim Mello #48 looks on while wearing a heat with an 'End racism' logo during the first half of the game between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on October 25, 2020 in Landover, Maryland.
Down Judge Jim Mello #48 looks on while wearing a heat with an ‘End racism’ logo during the first half of the game between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on October 25, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
  • The NFL is to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – known as “the black national anthem” – at major events.
  • The NFL will also feature anti racist signage and helmet decals at many of their games
  • This is part of their 10 year, $250 million commitment to tackling racism and social injustice.
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The NFL is to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – unofficially known as “the black national anthem” – in addition to “The Star-Spangled Banner” at many major events this season.

The song will play at the first regular-season game – Cowboys at Buccaneers, September 9 – in addition to other major fixtures, including the Pro Bowl, Super Bowl and the NFL Draft.

Anti-racist promotion will be a retaining feature of the games this season, with on-field signage, player helmet decals and in-stadium public service announcements being a part of the games.

In Week 1 of the preseason, end zones will hold the messages “End Racism” and “Inspire Change.”

The NFL are also continuing their “Say Their Stories” project. Started in the 2020 season, the project works to highlight the stories of those harmed by systemic racism.

Their website shows 87 in-depth stories of those harmed – some killed in police custody. Players did, and will continue to, honor those people on the pitch with decals on their helmets.

These actions are part of the NFL’s decade-long, $250 million commitment to tackling racism and social injustice.

The commentary on racism across the states in sports has been a highly controversial topic, with the movement – sparked by Colin Kaepernick taking the knee during the national anthem in 2016.

However, the NFL has made clear its stance on the issue, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell offering his support last season for those who kneel.

Whilst the NFL moves forward with their statements on such important social issues, others are dialing back.

For example, the NBA has removed the majority of their gestures to anti-racism and social justice.

Commissioner Adam Silver said that the NBA’s anti-racist messaging last season was in response to “an extraordinary moment in time” – the surge in support for the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd was killed by police officer Derek Cauvin – but Silver now expected “a return to normalcy.”