Vanessa Williams’ black national anthem controversy explained
A July 4 performance of Vanessa Williams’ song “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, known as Black National Anthem, sparked controversy on social media. Some users called it “divisive,” while others said the backlash was “ridiculous” and showed support for performance.
Williams performed the song on PBS ‘ A Fourth Capitol program on Sunday, which was also hosted by the actress / singer.
Williams told The Associated Press on July 2, “This is to celebrate the wonderful opportunity we now have to celebrate Juneteenth. So we are reflecting the times,” while promoting the show.
The AP reported that the show, which marked 41 years on the air, has aired to millions of viewers on PBS as well as streaming platforms and troupes around the world.
The backlash against performance began just after its announcement on Saturday.
Lavern Spicer, a Republican candidate for Florida’s 24th Congressional District, tweeted on Saturday: “Vanessa darling, a BLACK national anthem is something a black African country would have, not a country like America that exists for everybody.”
Carmine Sabia, a conservative writer / editor, also tweeted on Saturday: “This is ridiculous. There is no black America. There is no black national anthem because there is no black nation. There is a nation under God. Anything that has awakened culture does something that divides us. I will not watch you create racism. “
On July 4, Sabia tweeted, “My problem is singing it on June 10. This, singing two national anthems, I think that’s another way to divide us. Two Americas, two anthems, no more separation and that does not bring unity. By definition, it cannot. “
Sabia’s tweet on Sunday was in response to one from Dr Darrell Scott, who tweeted: âFirst there was a problem withâ Juneteenth. âNow there is a problem with Vanessa Williams singingâ Lift Every Voice â , on Independence Day, because it’s nicknamed âthe black national anthem.â Seems like the ‘Right’ is the only side that still has a problem with the ‘black’ stuff. “
Writer, host and comedian Tim Young tweeted: “Nothing will unite us as a nation more than separate but equal national anthems …” on Saturday in reaction to the performance announcement.
âIt’s not unityâ¦ it’s division,â Young wrote in another tweet, alongside a video reacting to the announcement.
Young said in the video: “What is the Asian national anthem? What is the Native American national anthem? What is the Latino national anthem? … I don’t even know what the Native American anthem is? white national anthem because I don’t think of it that way. If you want to do the separate but equal bull ****, at least do everything. Go all out, commit. This is not unity , that’s stupid. “
TV host Greg Kelly tweeted on Saturday: “THAT’S BAD. Different races will have their own vacations? Their own anthems? The new SEGREGATION. Vanessa Williams will sing the ‘black national anthem’ for the Fourth Capitol celebration.”
User @ TonyPaul45 wrote: “There is only one national anthem that covers everyone. It doesn’t matter what color you are.” The tweet has received over 200 likes since it was first posted.
Other users have shown their support for the performance, such as author and journalist Sophia A. Nelson, who tweeted: â#VanessaWilliams looks fabulous! She sings the black national anthem. [heart emoji] this! #ACapitolFourth # July4th #HappyIndependenceDay “
Author Karen Dalton Beninato tweeted: âVanessa Williams dedicates the black national anthem to her ancestors and to our new national holiday on June. [heart emoji]# 4juilletPBS #ACapitolFourth. “
TV critic Hal Boedeker tweeted on Saturday: “So sad that some people struggle with an anthem, written by two Florida men, that resonates through the generations. Hear a great singer perform it tonight on PBS. # VanessaWilliams. “
Father Edward Beck tweeted: “This is so ridiculous. It is unfortunate that we are still facing this kind of nonsense again. I will be listening to hear the two beautiful hymns. Congratulations @VWOfficial and thank you for your grace and for helping to raise every voice. “
News week reached out to Williams, PBS, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Black Lives Matter movement for comment.
Vanessa Williams and the Miss America 1984 scandal
Williams was the first black woman to be crowned Miss America, winning the title in 1983 for the 1984 competition.
But in July 1984, she was forced to resign her post as Miss America after Attica the magazine has revealed it will be posting nude photos of Williams. The images were said to have been taken two years earlier while working as a photographer’s assistant, Time reported in 2015 on the anniversary of his resignation.
Time reported that the photos ran in AtticaSeptember 1984 issue and five million newsstand copies. The end Attica Editor-in-Chief Bob Guccione said at the time that “it was a business decision” to publish the photos, “not a moral decision.”
Vanessa Williams’ wedding story
Is Williams still married? According to IMDb, the singer / actress is currently married to Jim Skrip, whom she married in 2015.
Prior to that, she was married to music director Ramon Hervey from 1987 to 1997. She has three children with Hervey, including actors Jillian, Melanie and Devin Harvey.
Williams was later married to former NBA player Rick Fox from 1999 to 2005. They share daughter, actress and director Sasha Fox, according to IMDb.