Barack Obama supporter Rene Marie has laid down a whopping political statement in Denver. Just one month before the Democratic National Convention in Denver, she sang the ‘Black National Anthem’ at the biggest City Council meeting of the year. She was supposed to sing the Star Spangled Banner which celebrates the nation’s birthday.

As the Star Spangled Banner melody played, Ms. Marie substituted the words to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to the astonishment of Mayor John Hickenlooper and city council members. The song is commonly known as the Black National Anthem.

The move was apparently calculated to show solidarity for a Barack Obama victory (see lyrics and video below) and a separatist view of black culture, but the nakedly transparent show of support does Obama no favors. It plays into a stereotype about Obama backers that they are divisive, and provokes unfair whispers that Obama himself may be secretly unpatriotic.

The song invokes an allegiance to “our native land” (Africa) and “our God,” meant to distinguish a God for black people from the one worshipped by inclusive Christians of all colors. Both of these themes are found in Black Liberation Theology and the Trinity United Church that Barack Obama called home for 20 years.

Rene Marie’s move is politically obtuse, for it continues to paint Obama as a ‘black candidate’ at a time when he is trying to move beyond the bitter divisiveness of the Democratic nominating process. This unfortunate view of the nominee was promoted by Bill Clinton in South Carolina, and reinforced by the friends and associates of Obama himself, most notably Louis Farrakhan and Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Rene Marie is a jazz singer of little note who has a history of artistic controversy. She had an epiphany several years ago when interviewed by a Russian journalist. She was asked what it was like to “be an American” when she realized that she felt like a foreigner. She began referring to herself as an African-American and has refused to sing patriotic songs since that time.

Ms. Marie is also an activist who devotes a entire page on her website to the Jena Six controversy. On that page she endorses the idea that America is a racist culture.

Lyrics and video of the Black National Anthem, otherwise known as “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” are below.


Black National Anthem (Video)




Lift Every Voice and Sing
“Black National Anthem”
(Lyrics)

“Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise,
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee,
Shadowed beneath thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land”