PBS featured singer and actress Vanessa Williams performed the black national anthem during its Independence Day coverage.
The song, also known as “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” was composed in 1900 by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson. The decision sparked backlash, with critics saying the performance was ‘divisive’ and ‘un-American.’ PBS aired William’s number during its annual Capitol Fourth program on Sunday evening.
“It’s in celebration of the wonderful opportunity that we now have to celebrate Juneteenth. So we are reflective of the times,” said Williams, who was the first Black woman to win the Miss America Pageant. Her performance will not replace the national anthem, which is to be sung by Grammy-award winner Renée Fleming.
“Vanessa honey, a BLACK national anthem is something a Black African Country would have, not a country like America that exists for everyone,” Tweeted Lavern Spicer, a Republican candidate in Florida.