Lift Every Voice and Sing

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Overview

Written by civil rights leader and poet James Weldon Johnson in 1899, "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" is sung in schools and churches throughout America. The popular, timeless song is recognized as a testimonial to the struggle and achievements of African-American people past, present, and future.

An illustrated version of the song that has come to be considered the African American national anthem.

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Overview

Written by civil rights leader and poet James Weldon Johnson in 1899, "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" is sung in schools and churches throughout America. The popular, timeless song is recognized as a testimonial to the struggle and achievements of African-American people past, present, and future.

An illustrated version of the song that has come to be considered the African American national anthem.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Between the sober linocuts and the devotional text, this adaptation of what was once called the Negro National Anthem fairly effuses seriousness of purpose. Lyrics from a song written by two schoolteacher brothers in 1900 in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday caption prints created in 1946 and '47 by the granddaughter of slaves; the emphasis here is on suffering, deliverance and gratitude to God. A picture of the victim of a hanging, for example, faces ``We have come over a way that with tears has been watered / We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.'' The score is provided at the end. Throughout, two-color art yields black-and-blue borders, while that blue, an almost turquoise tone, splashes through some of the linocuts. Much like ``The Star-Spangled Banner,'' the production of this anthem is big on reverence and short on spontaneity. All ages. Feb.
Publishers Weekly
"Gilchrist's colored pencil, gouache and watercolor art is as emotion-charged as the lyrics of what is widely considered the African-American national anthem," said PW. All ages. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In honor of this song's centennial anniversary, this volume collects 22 often stirring black-and-white archival photographs to illustrate Johnson's powerful lyrics, set to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson. Smith's rather spotty introduction offers a brief biographical sketch of the siblings and outlines the genesis of the song (though it is the back jacket flap that suggests that James W. Johnson was asked by the Florida high school where he served as principal to compose the song for a celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday). Two decades later, in 1920, the NAACP proclaimed the composition "The Negro National Anthem." Crisply reproduced photographs ranging from the sobering to the uplifting correspond to the words of the anthem. "Out from the gloomy past,/ Till now we stand at last/ Where the white gleam/ of our bright star is cast" shows an enchanting toddler girl in a white wool coat and matching hat holding hands with two adults among a crowd. A photograph of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is paired with "Lest our feet stray from the places,/ Our God, where we met Thee.... " Other memorable shots include the scarred back of a captive man ("Stony the road we trod,/ Bitter the chastening rod"), an exhausted boy cotton-picker asleep in the fields and a girl learning to read. Unfortunately, though the photos are credited, they neither include the year nor the context in which they were taken. The melody line concludes the book, and the many children featured in the photographs will draw a young audience into this affecting volume. All ages. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
James Weldon Johnson's Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing, beautifully illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, is a picture book for young children. Set to music by J. Rosamond Johnson, the poet's brother, it is considered many people to be the African-American National Anthem.
School Library Journal

K-Gr 4
A visual interpretation of Johnson's song, which has become widely recognized as the official African-American national hymn. Collier's earth-toned collage illustrations created with fabric and paint are expansive, sweeping completely over the spreads. Images are subtle yet evocative of different periods in African-American history, beginning with profile outlines of numerous faces in the clouds above a ship traveling on an ocean, implying an ocean voyage. Subsequent images convey the spirit of civil rights, education, and faith. The overall feel and look of this book is one of progress and triumph amid struggle. The lyrics of the three verses of the song are included at the end of the book, along with the music, which was composed by Johnson's brother, Rosamond. While thought-provoking and competently done, Jan Spivey Gilchrist's interpretation (Scholastic, 1995) demonstrates emotion more vividly than Collier's work.
—Mary N. OluonyeCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal
K-Gr 8-A beautiful collection of black-and-white photographs are matched with the words of the song, which was composed in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson for a special celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. The 22 archival photographs bring readers face-to-face with the power, strength, and dignity of a people. A back lashed with ugly scars; a child asleep on a sack of cotton; a pair of worn, weathered hands; three little girls singing in church; a line of marchers against a cloudy sky-these powerful images have an emotional appeal that transcends ethnic background. This stunning blend of poetry and visual images speaks to the human spirit.-Eunice Weech, M. L. King Elementary School, Urbana, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-An oversized illustrated version of the song that is known as the African American National Anthem. Countless black Americans have sung it in fraternal groups, in church, and to open or end a meeting. Yet, it is one thing to sing it and quite another to see and actually think about what it says. The images are stunning, and even more so when set off by Gilchrist's bold, dramatic artwork. She seamlessly blends scenes of Africa with those of black America. With colored pencil, gouache, and watercolors, she brings the words to life. Another picture-book version of this classic work Walker, 1993 is illustrated with linocuts by the legendary Elizabeth Catlett. That artwork, done in the 1940s, reflects the very real oppression and discrimination African Americans were enduring at the time. Catlett's vision is spare and stark, depicting in the careworn faces of her women a grim determination to survive. Both books are a wonderful way to introduce a younger generation to a poem that has played so unique a role in black history.-Carol Jones Collins, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
In his highly iconic reinterpretation of the beloved "Negro National Anthem," Collier was inspired by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Below the words of the song on each double-paged spread, a loose visual storyline follows a young boy through his day. Readers see him rising; going to school; with his class, visiting the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where a 1963 bombing killed four young girls; laying a wreath at Dr. Martin Luther King's statue, which faces the church; and singing the words of Johnson's momentous song. Two intentional unifying visual elements predominate: water (the slave ships of the Middle Passage, the symbolic drinking fountain of the Civil Rights era, a reflecting pool) and the often upraised, lustrous faces of black school children, sometimes profiled in the clouds. A bright blue predominates in intensely hued skies and school uniforms, while Collier's highly recognizable style incorporates watercolor and collage to meaningful effect. (illustrator's note, words with music) (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802774422
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 1/1/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 36
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.85 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.23 (d)

Meet the Author

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was a prominent author, lawyer, educator, diplomat, and early civil rights leader. He was also the author of The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, originally published anonymously. In 1900 he wrote the lyrics and his brother, Rosamond, composed the music for "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which is still widely sung today and has come to be known as the official African American National Anthem.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2009

    Lift Every Voice and Sing by Bryan Collier/James Weldon Johnson

    Bryan Collier provides a wonderful accompanying illustration of the powerful 1900 anthem by James Weldon Johnson. Presented in a manner that will be inspiring for young minds, they should be able to feel the "song full of hope" that was made manifest in the inauguration of President Obama in 2009. And, with that inspiration, may they remain true as they go forth on life's journey.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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