Lauren Boebert Upset About Black National Anthem at Super Bowl

Representative Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to complain about the Black National Anthem being performed during the Super Bowl.

Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph is slated to perform "Lift Every Voice and Sing," colloquially known as the Black National Anthem, ahead of the Sunday night football game. The song, written more than 100 years ago, emerged as a rallying cry during the civil rights movement, according to the NAACP. The NFL began including the song in its games following the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred during the summer of 2020, but the move has faced backlash from some conservatives.

Boebert became the latest prominent Republican to criticize the National Football League (NFL) over the song's inclusion, which will be performed alongside "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful." The GOP lawmaker accused the league of attempting to "divide" Americans by including the Black National Anthem in the performance lineup.

"America only has ONE NATIONAL ANTHEM," she tweeted. "Why is the NFL trying to divide us by playing multiple!? Do football, not wokeness."

Critics argued, however, that Boebert's tweet was more divisive than the inclusion of the performance. Condé Nast editor Luke Zaleski accused Boebert of "gaslighting" viewers.

"The gaslighting is the fact that she's using the concept of unity to divide. She's doing what she's accusing the NFL of. It's a fake grievance contrived to irk and produce the effect of further fracturing society," Zaleski tweeted.

"It's black history month. The song is meaningful to African Americans. It's also a historic game with 2 black quarterbacks, the first time ever. Get over yourself and your ridiculous white grievances. If you don't like it, don't watch. Simple," another Twitter user tweeted on Sunday in response to Boebert.

Other conservatives have previously criticized the NFL over the song. In 2021, Fox News host Sean Hannity decried a performance as an attempt to "inject politics into sports." Several conservative pundits also complained when Vanessa Williams performed the song during a PBS Fourth of July special that same year.

Boebert criticizes Super Bowl Black National Anthem
The State Farm Stadium ahead of Sunday night’s Super Bowl is seen in Glendale, Arizona. Inset, Representative Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, is seen on February 7 in Washington, D.C. The GOP lawmaker on Sunday criticized the NFL over a performance of the Black National Anthem during the Super Bowl. Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images; Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

What Is the Black National Anthem?

NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson first wrote "Lift Every Voice and Sing" in 1900. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, composed the music for its lyrics, according to the NAACP.

The song was first performed by students at a segregated school in Jacksonville, Florida, to celebrate the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, who presided over the emancipation of slaves during the American Civil War, according to the NAACP.

The song became a landmark of African American culture. According to Time magazine, it was performed during meetings in which civil rights leaders planned the Montgomery Bus Boycott and has been quoted in speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Following the 2020 racial protests after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, the NFL sought to confront what many players have described as systemic racism following years of protests.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The New York Times in 2021 that the inclusion of the song is "an opportunity to highlight messages that are important to the league, players and personnel and our communities."

"We've seen tremendous work done by our players to make an impact, and we can increase that through the high-visibility platform that the NFL provides," he said.

Newsweek reached out to Boebert's press office for further comment.

Correction 2/13/2023 10:02 a.m.: This article was reflected to include the correct name of James Weldon Johnson.