Lift Every Voice and Sing: Poems Celebrating African-American History | National Endowment for The Arts

James Weldon Johnson’s famous poem “Lift Every Voice and Sing“—known colloquially as the black national anthem—the poet urges us to “Let our rejoicing rise/ High as the list’ning skies….” In the poems that follow poets lift their voices skyward in praise of notable figures in African-American history, from civil rights activists to musicians to politicians. These are just a few of the many poems that you can find online marking the achievements, the disappointments, the hopes, and the fears of African Americans of all occupations from across the generations. Why not start your own treasury of poems by browsing where you can search by subject or poet?

“If you can’t be free, be a mystery.” from “Canary” by Rita Dove