The Friends of Brentwood Public Library, Inc held their Black History Month Program that celebrates the history behind the Negro National Hymn, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”. The event recently honored local artists and trailblazers with a symposium inside the Brentwood Branch Public Library. The Friend’s Matriarch, Ms. Sharon Coon planned a day of discourse and revelation based on the famed lyrics of the 122-year-old song which carries a rich legacy. Songwriter, principal, lawyer and civil rights activist, James Weldon Johnson was tasked to help celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1900. Lead by the school children of Jacksonville, within twenty years the song was being sung all over the south. Now, the song is considered the Negro National Hymn and the lyrics have endured for decades.
The Friends of Brentwood Public Library hosted the symposium panel with some of the historic legal and dignitaries in the Duval community. “He was a songwriter, civil rights activist and volunteer in the community. His legacy should be celebrated everyday” said Ms. Coon.
In attendance were local judges, school board members, museum curators and councilpersons. The aim of the event was to honor local artists that have continued the mission of James Weldon Johnson and his brother, John Rosamond Johnson through their interpretation of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”.
The artist honorees are: Glendia Cooper, Marsha Hatcher, Overstreet Ducasse, Princess Simpson Rashid.
The Friends of Brentwood Public Library, Inc. promotes the education of the community through the active and continued use of local libraries