Democrat criticizes Super Bowl crowd for not standing during black national anthem

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) on Sunday criticized the Super Bowl crowd for not standing during a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” widely known as the Black national anthem.

“Very few people stood at the Super Bowl for ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.’ The Negro National Anthem,” Cohen wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“Not a pretty picture for the Super Bowl crowd,” he added.

This year marked the second time the national anthem was played in an official capacity at the Super Bowl. The anthem was performed by Grammy Award-winning Andra Day, and Reba McEntire performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The Black National Anthem was originally written as a poem by former NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900. Last year, it was performed for the first time at the Super Bowl by Emmy Award-winner Sheryl Lee Ralph, then Tighter scrutiny “The Star-Spangled Banner” and its association with race and slavery.

Cohen, who represents Memphis, Tennessee, in Congress, defended his original statement in response to some of the criticism in responses to his post.

“I support both,” Cohen said, responding to an X user who said people should only stand for the traditional national anthem. “And in Memphis, most of them do.”

Cohen responded to another user who said the traditional national anthem “doesn't see color” and criticized Democrats for “dividing this country with race wars.”

“Well, I respect and honor our national anthem as representing our country and our pride in it,” Cohen wrote. “But if you look at the history and some of the speech, it’s about slavery and not in an interrogative way.”

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