In an era where everything from band names to pancake syrup are scrambling to re-brand over racism concerns, it was only a matter of time before someone began to re-think the National Anthem.
Lyndsey Parker, the editor-in-chief at Yahoo Music, is calling for a new song “with a less troubling history and a more inclusive message.”
She cites journalist and activist Kevin Powell when making her case, saying there’s issues with Francis Scott Key and his ties to slavery and President Andrew Jackson.
“‘The Star-Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key, who was literally born into a wealthy, slave-holding family in Maryland,” explains Powell. “He was a very well-to-do lawyer in Washington, D.C., and eventually became very close to President Andrew Jackson, who was the Donald Trump of his time, which means that there was a lot of hate and violence and division. At that time, there were attacks on Native Americans and Black folks — both free Black folks and folks who were slaves — and Francis Scott Key was very much a part of that. He was also the brother-in-law of someone who became a Supreme Court justice, Roger Taney, who also had a very hardcore policy around slavery. And so, all of that is problematic. And the fact that Key, when he was a lawyer, also prosecuted abolitionists, both white and Black folks who wanted slavery to end, says that this is someone who really did not believe in freedom for all people. And yet, we celebrate him with this national anthem, every time we sing it.”https://news.yahoo.com/why-it-might-be-time-to-replace-the-star-spangled-banner-with-a-new-national-anthem-023741108.html
Then there’s the problem of the third verse, which Parker says is blatantly racist.
“The Star-Spangled Banner,” based on a poem Key wrote about his eyewitness account of the War of 1812, originally featured a little-heard third stanza that was blatantly racist: “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.”
Powell tells Parker he believes black artists will soon start refusing to sing the anthem.