The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), the national organization of men’s basketball coaches, and its Committee on Racial Reconciliation has forwarded a letter to all of its member coaches encouraging basketball programs to play both “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” prior to games this season.
Craig Robinson, NABC Executive Director, acknowledged “the unique ability of sports to unite and bring us together in ways few other cultural phenomena can.” Robinson stressed that“Lift Every Voice and Sing” has served as an anthem for Black communities for over a century and that the song’s lyrics recognize the nation’s troubled history of race relations and celebrate hopes for a brighter race relations future.
His communication acknowledged the song is recognized as
one of the most cherished of the African American civil rights movement and is often referred to as the Black national anthem.
The letter contained an attachment, referred to as a “handbook,” with a specific explanation of the historical importance of the song and specific suggestions and guidance as to how the song should be presented and integrated as a complement to “The Star Spangled Banner” during pregame activities.
The handbook explained that “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is not being suggested as a replacement to the traditional national anthem but rather to accompany and to be played alongside it.
The handbook explains, “When played alongside the anthem, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ delivers a powerful, unifying message that together acknowledges America’s struggle with equality, celebrates progress, and lays a vision for the future.”
The handbook outlines suggested protocol for integration of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” into pregame protocol for participating student-athletes and coaches, as well as for game officials, and suggested language for a public address announcement.
Robinson concluded his letter with his “hope” that all games played across the country during the upcoming season, from Division I level contests to small town high schools, will adopt the suggested protocol and “powerfully reinforce sports’ unifying message.”
Jackson Lewis’ Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group will continue to monitor the NABC recommendation and its potential acceptance by college conferences and individual schools during the upcoming basketball season. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group with questions.