“Lift Every Voice” is considered the African American National Anthem. It outlines the struggles and triumphs of our lives lived here in the United States. I felt the every word of this song while on my trip to Dorchester County, Maryland to visit my project site for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad: Jacob Jackson site. It seemed as if every landmarks, deteriorating home, sculpture and story pertained to every line in the song. Below I will piece every picture I’ve taken with the 24 line song:
” (1)Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring, (2) Ring with the harmonies of liberty”
I chose this specific photo because they were strong words of a strong belief Harriet had for all blacks to be free. That we deserve to have this freedom, also because of the songs Harriet would create for people to follow the right directions to get to the appropriate safe house.
“(3) Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies, (4) Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.”
Although this boat was built way after the death of Harriet Tubman, it is a remembrance of her and how her voice and spirit rose so high that it prompted her to act on it. Set plenty free and influenced others to free themselves, her voice was heard among other while saying so little but achieving so much.
” (5)Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, (6)Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us”
This mural right here screamed Negro Spirituals and frisson. Slaves ran away with the constant fear of being caught and held in captivity once again. My ancestor were the crux of African American culture. Their trauma, their faith, their hardships, their lasting legacy of oppression; were ALL caught in this mural. It embodied the past, present and future because we are still a people escaping the systematic oppression and mental slavery but we have hope because of the triumph of the dark past.
“(7)Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, (8)Let us march on till victory is won.”
I chose these three photos to place together for these lines because victory has not been won…A march from 1967 compared to a march in 2016, almost 50 years later and we still march for our freedom and liberty. The march/protest in 1967 in Cambridge, Maryland was during the Civil Rights era and there were MANY reasons for the march just as today. The march in 2016 was for #BlackLivesMatter, standing against the injustice of the law against black people and the senseless police brutality and murders. It honestly stills amazes me that after centuries of being here, African Americans are still treated unfairly. It is also bittersweet to have these photos next to each other because it shows that we are a people who never gives up, never breaks down no matter how many challenges may come our way.
“(9) Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod, (10)Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; (11)Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet, (12)Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?”
No matter the causalities, no matter the consequences, enslaved peoples with the hope of freedom wen through any and everything to obtain freedom. Not only for them but for their children, and their children, and THEIR children; US.
“(13) We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, (14) We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered; (15) Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last (16) Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.”
“(17) God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, (18) Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way; (19) Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light (20) Keep us forever in the path, we pray.”
Harriet is/was seen as the Moses of our people because she carried out and acted on a message God gave to her to help his children to salvation. I, African Americans, are forever thankful for Harriet and countless other black heroes before us for bring us this far. For risking their lives for the greater good just so that WE can live this life.
“(21)Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee. (22)Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee. (23)Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand, (24)True to our God, true to our native land.”
I have no picture to truly describe these last few lines. But my trip to Cambridge, Maryland truly made this song mean SO much more to me than it has before. Traveling to the National Archives, stepping on the fields that my ancestors did, being in the very place of one of my black hero’s was in all truly liberating. I feel it is an experience every African American should have.