a poem for the fifth of July

Lift every voice and sing was always a blues song –
Words of inclusion and uplift –  infused with a melody.
Never improvised, never syncopated, just overcoming,
adapting. Emerging rapidly from a downbeat,
a flat note at the beginning and the end of time.
We called it our Negro national anthem growing up.
Then in college it became our Black national anthem,
though the words and tune remained the same.
It was we who changed. Our outlook matured.
Nation time! The song was always just a poem
put to music. When it became our hymn, we ennobled
and universalized it – we had a song worth singing.
The ancestors are with us on this one. Believe me.
The eagle landed. Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

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