tv Rep. James Clyburn Testifies on Designation of a National Hymn - Part 3 CSPAN March 2, 2022 6:22pm-7:03pm EST
he already has his -- >> he has already gone to the floor. >> mess deborah ross has taken off as well. we will be in recess for an hour. until 11:13 eastern time. thank, you everybody. and recess over. no more milk and cookies. next, i guess in our hearing, the last witness was going to be mr. raskin. jamie? jamie is not with us. miss ross are you with us? this is not good. miss garcia? sylvia? well, she was.
her chair is empty. miss bush? miss jackson-lee? well, we will continue with mr. russell on ancient tennessee political history. there is congressman johnson, making his way back. >> i think mr. owens would have some questions if that is an order. i don't know how you want to go with the timing. >> you are doing a great job, mr. johnson. you were right -- the chairman will now recognize burgess owens. mr. owens, you are recognized for five minutes. >> somebody unmute mr. owens. mr. johnson, can you unmute mr. owens? >> i wish. i'm at the airport. >> mr. owens, are you with us?
mr. johnson, i think you are still muted. >> okay, how is that? >> that's good. below hurricane, blow! >> am i okay now to speak quickly? >> you are on five minutes to question our witnesses or speak. you have five minutes. >> thank you so much. i won't take but a few minutes. i just want to say thank you for all of the witnesses, for your comments. i have enjoyed it. i grew up in the deep south. and i can say to -- you are so correct. this country is all about a more perfect union and i'm just excited about the fact that -- i grew up in tallahassee -- a 12 years old, i was demonstrating in front of the --
with a group of college people that really believed in our nation. they really believed in our nonviolent demonstration and they showed up and did a really good job for us. that being said, i remember also, in high school, those days, this song was actually the marching for -- i want to say, to fast forward, to go from there to where we are today, we have this remarkable talent of success, of diversity, all sorts of crazy colors. i tell you, i won't take too long on this. the last stanza of the song says it all to me. -- drunk with a wine of the world -- may we forever stand true to
our god -- true to our native land. that says it all, to not only what is happening today, but you would happen to that great generation that came before us. the generation that succeeded. just think about this song. faithful -- about education -- and that was the great generation that gave us this stance of this song that we can kind of come together with. this has to be something -- not to take the place of our national anthem. i love that too. this represents all americans. the strength, the fight, the overcoming, the coming together is what this hymn really stands for. i want to thank you for the opportunity. really quickly, i am thankful to see the growth of our land
and where we are today. with that being said, anybody have any questions? i just want to thank you for your presence and congressman cohen, thank you for leading this and congressman johnson, thank you. >> thank, you mr. owens. i appreciate your remarks. miss ross, you are recognized for five minutes or as much time -- >> thank you very much, chairman cohen. i don't see -- but thank you for him for his initiative. i am from north carolina. i love participating and religious services and and double acp offense and all sorts of events that thing "lift every voice and sing". i will just say that the way that it sets the tone for whatever occasion we are
participating in, it brings people together. and it is an honor to be here and learn even more about the history of this hymn. and to recognize and you say all out that black americans have experienced trauma, abuse, and inequity because of slavery, segregation, and racism. but always, always, have found a way to rise up. and we need to celebrate that. and we need to do that across party lines, across race, and across areas of the country. i want to just ask a few questions, if some of our distinguished panel members. doctor andré, i really love how you talked about what it is and what it has meant in every culture. why is it important for our
country in particular, the united states, to have a hymn, and even more than one, that are representative of our diversity -- >> thank you for your question and i am glad that the background of whatever hymn is -- it just felt like it would be a very relevant conversation here. because it goes back far and it has religious and nonreligious and even in the oxford english dictionary, talking about praise for our country. it feels like this is an important way to come together. when you designate -- we have a wide repertory of songs that a lot of americans know and songs that people, that vary with different times. but this one has shown a staying power and to elevate it to the space of a national hymn
allows us to feel that we can come together and it's something where you don't need an instrument. you sing your song. it helps people have more access to the words, to get to know the song if it has the standing. and it just bringing every voice together and the words seem to connect to experiences of being here in the u.s., of having its association with african americans. with being a human and having good times as well as having a tough history. having a hymn it's something that everybody can do and you don't need elaborate things. and if it is brought to that position, it says that we have a lot of songs that are important to many people, but here is a song that has a particular importance. and are singing it, it's a song that's the national anthem is a terrific work --
but it is in the 18th century. here is a song right on the dawn of the 19th, 20th century, and it feels a little more connected. we have relatives wait -- who spoke so beautifully about her connection to these really -- it's nice to be able to have that connection when so many african americans don't know what their background is. it brings, in a beautiful way, the not too distant past right up to the president and we can sing it together. so, i think there is a collectivity you have. you can stand in silence, but there is even more when voices come together. >> >> great. and doctor reece, how important would it be to have "lift every voice and sing" the our national him to your work at the african american national museum of african american history and culture?
what would that mean? >> well, i can't -- it's hard to predict in the meaning that i were to -- frame a response about what the him represents in terms of the power of music. it crossed my mind that music, american music, is one of the most visible examples that we have off americas pluralistic society. and "lift every voice and sing" encapsulate that. and it's -- i would find few people to argue about the power that music has as something that's universal to all human beings, to bind people together in the spirit of creating music, singing songs, and just representing and pointing people together, and serving as a beacon, as guidance, and moving forward.
so when you think about the historical, cultural significance, you just think about that alone, the meaning, i believe, speaks for itself. >> thank you very much. and i yield back, mister chairman. >> thank you. thank you, senator. next time i read goodnight is sending to representative fish. bakari with us? representative fish back is not with us. is representative jackson-lee with us? there she is. representative jackson-lee, from houston, texas, as i always say, where we not only seeing, but they does [laughs] thank you. there's a great history in houston, texas. obviously we are right now studying and emancipation trail, the stories from the announcement of the freak slave by general granger. so thank, you mister chairman, for that hearing. and let me cite you. all should note that chairman cohen has been the forefront of the voting rights trial and
tribulation and advocacy and out of his committee and it's fun work came the commission h.r. 40 the commission to study slavery reparations and this could be more appropriate on the leadership of james clyburn, [inaudible] i'm glad to be a member of it as he knows, and i just want to thank you very much. let me [inaudible] admit to the record, it may have already been, the "lift every voice and sing" derricks, i'd like to submit it to the record. as unanimous ask unanimous consent and then. >> without objection. >> thank you. and like to read these four lines i. think it's. forlines lift every voice and sing to earth and heaven ring ring. with the harmonies of liberty. let our rejoicing rise high as a lifting skies. what's a patriotic group of words. ring with the harmonies of liberty. that our rejoicing rise high as the distinct skies. i only have a short time so
witnesses, i'm going to go very quickly on this. question and all you need to do is say yes or no. is this an attempt to replace the star-spangled banner, national anthem? chairman russell, yes or no? >> no. >> professor, director reece? professor reece? >> i don't see it in that way, no. >> china redmond bug? naomi andré? >> no. >> lloyd washington? >> no. >> melanie edwards? >> no. >> mr. henderson? >> no. >> thank you. i think that's an important affirmation of what and how important this message would be. we have a star-spangled banner. we honor it.
now, we have the opportunity to ensure that we have him. he him, by its very nature -- i'm not a musician but to have them in my family --'s a hearing and gathering piece. so, chair russell, my time is short. i am a witness to the singing of the wonderful lift every voice at the naacp for all of the decades that i have been a life member. can you just say again how powerful the beginning of your conference and what you see happening in the people as faces when using lift every voice? >> i think, congressman, that to me, that when ever we [inaudible] wherever we are it sets the tone for the kind of meeting that we are going to hold and as you well know, we never have
a beating that we don't begin or end with "lift every voice and sing". i wanted to bring it up just what across the [inaudible] board. and that is this some has a majesty, has a majesty that lift it, i think, above many other songs. i've heard it some -- >> me to -- >> buy the brooklyn college choir and so many others, but i heard it song for the first time by the tabernacle choir at temple square in salt lake city. >> thank you, mister chairman. >> thousands of voices. >> thank you. let me ask [inaudible] director reece and professor andré, [inaudible] your answer to all the witnesses. him's are [inaudible] and i think the question that we need to present to america it's a fact that no matter who you are, you would find a
comfort of standing, sitting or hearing this song, because he him -- we are voting on not the black came, reporting on the national him -- and i think we have to make it very clear, no matter who we are, feel a healing sense or a unifying sense in this time. and so, if you all would go to answering that so i would get it on the record, it makes it more potent that this would be an appropriate national him. i'll start with reece, please? with the chairman's indulgence, i'll appreciate if you all would go quickly in your answers. >> sure, [inaudible] currently, i believe that is the sole purpose of the him. and "lift every voice and sing" functions in that way in religious settings and outside religious settings. >> thank you. redmond? i'm sorry, i'm calling you by your last name if you're there. >> thank you. apologies, i lost my soundbite, headset is back on. there's already precedents for this song being taken up in communities, various
communities in the united states, various faith traditions from jewish to various christian, protestant, as well as catholic denominations. but also being translated internationally, right? having been used in angola in being translated into umbundu, having being requested for use in japan and being published in japan in 1936. so there's already precedence for the song being used across cultures, across national boundaries. >> thank you, professor andré in washington. >> "lift every voice and sing" international him for all of american peoples, absolutely. and it's being used this way and it's wonderful to give it this recognition. >> professor, president washington? >> [inaudible] i agree with that. and as a song, it speaks to all, not just [inaudible]
. >> melanie edwards? >> but the thumb reflects the man who wrote it. they were african americans in america, but they saw themselves as citizens of the country and so the lyrics invite others to face reality, but move forward and be hopeful. >> we thank you for your family's i can see by the way, and we thank you for being here, and we believe this is a tribute for the rainbow of americans. and isn't it wonderful if we sum it not divisive lee but in a unifying manner? i want to thank all the witnesses at the hearing, mr. anderson, thank you for his service to the nation, and your civil rights legacy, and thank all of those who now made an excellent record that no matter who you are in america, you can stand and sing this song and feel comforted and feel approved and confirmed that not divided. mister chairman, i thank you for allowing the extra for these witnesses to place that on the record. and i yield back. thank you so very much. >> thank you, miss jackson-lee.
now i would like to recognize mr. jamie raskin for five minutes. >> mister chairman, thank you very much, and i'm sorry to and such a choppy day with all the voting, and it was especially [inaudible] outstanding proxies for eight or nine colleagues. so forgive me for being late, everybody. i was able to check out some of the early testimony. i want to thank the witnesses for their excellent testimony. i wonder if anyone would be prepared to address the question of where "lift every voice and sing" fits in to american music in general, and how it would, how it would serve to enrich our musical lexicon, if we were to formally embraced it and adopt it this way. i don't know. perhaps, miss andré, could you
address that? >> sure. i'll jump in. thank you for that, and i'll jump in very quickly and others can add their voices. in american music history, we have him's, we have protest songs, we have songs of praise, and they overlap with different categories. the fact that we have this solemn, which started very connected with the black community and then within its first 50 years it became very associated with other different american and, as professor regiment has shown us, even outside of america, this is a song that can, has already risen in music historiography as having a particularly important place. our recognition of it as a national him, i really feel, is almost giving it a title that it has already fulfilled. >> well, very nicely said, professor redmond, [inaudible] do you. >> yes and i would agree with, especially, that last sentiment.
i think sonically the song actually fits very, very comfortably inside of many of the singing traditions that we already have established through our kind of civic duties as citizens. but it is one that has a kind of melodic line that it is, in some respects, more accessible than something like that star spangled banner, right? there are levels of difficulty to all of these songs, but that "lift every voice and sing" especially because it was written for children, right, is already keeping in mind the kinds of capacities of its singers. and so it is accessible to people in that way, even if the language is sometimes a little bit different, right? we are inheriting the kinds of linguistic traditions of the late 19th century, in all of these songs. so there is some learning curve but it fits sonically very beautifully inside of what our national songs are already accomplishing. >> yeah. i know a song about the late chilean singer victor jara,
which goes, you can kill a senior, that you can't kill a song. and i wonder, i wonder what this song represents to you, professor i'm -- going to stick with you for a sec -- and i know everybody projects different meanings and different interpretations onto all forms of art and all forms of music, so it doesn't have one single meaning, but you study it so deeply and understand it in a very rich way. what would you say the thematic residence is in the song for you? >> i think one of the most significant three lines in the song are twofold. one is a "we"-ness, that there is something about collectivity that is urgent and necessary for our best success moving forward, that there's always a wee in mind. that extends both from it for part composition from j.
rosamond johnson all the way through the lyrics of the song, that is always meant to be some together. and secondly, i think that the messaging of the song really is about perseverance and transcendence, right? that there is a struggle that is in front of us, that it is worthy of taking up. and that that will be fruitful, it will be successful in the final. result i love that. and the term -- the point of "we"-ness of it, the universality of it. i remember as a kid, the first time i sang it, and a lot of kids don't want to sing. i remember very clearly, the teacher saying, this song tells you, we need every person's voice. we need everybody singing. it's not just for the kids who love to saying. it's for everybody, even if you are a little shy about singing. and that is beautiful and of course, the theme of perseverance, which has been so much the hallmark of the american struggle -- it speaks also universally to
everybody. because everybody has been experiencing struggle. i am thrilled about this legislation, mr. cline burn. i thank you so much for bringing this forward. it's beautiful legislation that i hope will be unifying across every kind of line in america and i think all these witnesses for this great testimony. i yield back. >> thank you, representative -- i think representative johnson had a question or two. since he is at the airport with a plane about a leaf, i will recognize him. >> thank you for that, mister chairman, your indulgence. just, i will be brief. but as mr. henderson still available? i'm on my phone. mr. henderson, it's sort of an open-ended question, but we have all, everyone has been very articulate this morning about what i would view as the greatness of america. we are an exceptional nation, but we all acknowledge, we are still in the sometimes --
i give you an open platform to give us your view, what are some of the most important things that we can and should be doing right now in that regard, making a more perfect union? >> for me, it ties into the words of dr. king, that we should continue to live together as brothers, lest we parish together -- we need as much unification as possible at this particular point in time in the history of america because all the various things that are happening in a communication system that is ongoing -- as long as we understand that this song stands for what it says. and its place in history cannot be taken. and we can use it as a message for unifying, and not to be divisive. >> that is a good answer.
would i think everyone in the hearing today has acknowledged is the importance of keeping the national anthem and making this the national hymn and not confusing the two. i wonder if, is there some risk if this would create confusion? in other words, the average consistent, the average every day american will see congress pass this and they will confuse it. because there has been a lot of misleading headlines over the last year or so about things like this. is there a risk that we stir up controversy? that somehow we create more confusion or division? this misunderstanding -- does that make sense? what would you say about that? >> with freedom of speech, we have risk and we have reward.
we need to be able to explain to whomsoever, that might be adverse to -- that is one of the challenges that we have in this country right now. far too many people in this country do not know the history of this country, therefore, they speak on opinion rather than facts. and so, i am so grateful that we have had a number of people -- so that we understand that it is a unifying hymn and not a device hymn. for people who think it should not be, we can explain to them what it really means. >> i think that is well said. one thing i am sure we all agree on is that there is a problem in this country with cultural illiteracy, civic illiteracy and it transcends every socioeconomic align and state and place. maybe something like this can
help in that regard, to help educate all of us, all americans. with that regard, i think it could be a noble pursuit. i appreciate all the witnesses. sorry for the confusion. and i'm sorry for the background noise at the airport. i yield back. >> thank, you mr. johnson. i now recognize miss garcia. five minutes. >> thank you, mister chairman. and i will thank the sponsor of this proposal. i think it's very important that we move forward. coming from houston, and coming from texas, i have grown with this hymn and i have grown with juneteenth celebrations. i have grown with a lot of rich cultural history that adds to that adversity of our great city. and i think this is a great way to kickstart, if you will, national black history month. today's hearing reaffirms the commitment of this committee
and this congress -- recognizing our african american history of struggles and resilience is a step in the right direction towards a path of healing and consolation and reunion. and music does bring people together. i mean, i don't know a church that doesn't at some point try to bring their congregation together with good music. so, i think it is important that we recognize this hymn, so my questions are for the historians of the group. and i want to begin with mess reece, apparently, i have learned today -- there are hymn -- could you tell us the difference between a hymn and an anthem. >> thank you for that question, in fact, the term hymn and
anthem, they are frequently if not often used interchangeably. hymn it is particularly designed in a worship setting, anthems, people rally around for a particular cause. i think what's also interesting to note that in society, we can adopt anything, any piece of music and declare that it serves a purpose. that may not be its original intent. so, any piece could be an anthem. maybe not necessarily any peace could be hymn, but i kind of coalesces around the idea of what that piece of music is supposed to symbolize. >> thank you. mess andré, u.s. study this also. have there been any other hymn --
that have been nay -- made national? >> i actually don't know that history in terms of the united states or other countries recognizing national hymn -- but i would like to support what my colleague has mentioned about -- where we're going back to antiquity and up through the liturgy is that hymns particularly have a very malleable and flexible meaning and they can symbolize devotion and god and countries -- i'm sorry, i don't know the other national hymns and i think you don't really hear about them. but going back to an earlier question, with this beacon fusing for the american public. i think we all have our national anthem and we love the
national anthem. even if it is a little hard to saying. i think we have the complexity and the sophistication to realize that you can have more than one important national music and national song and this not being the anthem, but being elevated as a hymn, adds a sense of belonging since i can't think of any other song, besides the national anthem, that people know so well. so, in terms of -- we are having music speak in this way -- >> mess reece, do you happen to know the answer to my question? >> actually, i have learned, and i can't speak to specifics, but there is been several instances where hymns have been put forward in this country. as designated national hymns, i don't believe they passed, but within the last day or two, i
was informed of that very fact. and -- >> this is not going to supplant or replace -- as mr. hendrickson said, we cannot allow this to -- as -- if you hear the song, and i've heard it so many times, in many occasions, in houston, at funerals. i graduated from -- at the graduation. it is part of the culture. and that just really, frankly -- it's part of houston's culture because it reflects the diversity of our city. so, i am excited about this and i want to just say, thank you for miss edwards for being here and sharing your story because,
obviously, what you have inherited and the legacy that you carry is so important, to not only your community, but to the entire country. so, thank you for being here and thank you to all the witnesses and, mister chairman, i see my time has expired so i will yield back. >> thank you, miss garcia. and i think you are still with us, i hope? no. i guess she must have needed to go catch an airplane or something. with that, i will thank all of our witnesses for their testimony and their time. it was educational. and thank you -- and doing there -- in your absence, mess ross
questioned and testified -- and so did miss garcia and mr. raskin. we appreciate it. it has been very enlightening and inspiring committee. and i thank you for bringing it. and with that, i will conclude today's hearing. unless you have anything to close with? >> i just want to thank you, mister chairman, and thank all of our witnesses here today for they're very enlightened discussion here and i assume -- as i said in my opening remarks, i get a bit uncomfortable. i grew up in south carolina -- i remember on one occasion, her expressing a little bit of discomfort with the reference
to "lift every voice and sing" being at the, quote unquote, -- national anthem. we are one nation under god indivisible with liberty and justice for all. we should have one national anthem for all. and i think, to elevate the human spirit, it would help bring us together and god knows we need to come together. may we lift every voice and saying, such an iconic song, our national hymn that will bring us together in a very significant way. and i am hopeful that the committee, the subcommittee, and full committee, we'll see that we -- and i think that the votes are in the house. to pass. >> thank you. >> i think you have a wonderful
opportunity to remind people, the composer saw it as a hymn, not as an anthem. and to beat that little drum in public. we never separated ourselves. >> thank you so much. absolutely. >> use that as a teaching point. i am an old teacher. a learning moment. >> thank, you miss edwards, and thank you -- thank you all the witnesses and members of the committee who participated today. that will conclude our hearing. without objection -- might somebody submit questions -- i think we have five days to submit questions and there may be questions that are sent to you for a request that you answer them. five legislative days for