Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Pictorial Tribute to the Negro National Anthem


Written by civil rights leader and poet James Weldon Johnson in 1899, ³Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing² 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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Written by civil rights leader and poet James Weldon Johnson in 1899, ³Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing² 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 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
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.
Carolyn Phelan
Interpreting the moving anthem "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," this picture book offers illustrations inspired by the hymn yet not bound by a literal interpretation of the words. Combining colored pencil, gouache, and watercolor, the impressionistic artwork embodies the spirit of the music and the feelings of those who sing it. A series of free-form images show black people in Africa, in slavery, in modern times, and, ultimately, timeless. These adults and children are not just free in their temporal lives, but in their spirits: there are people enduring darkness and storms, springing from the sea, and soaring through the air. By illustrating not just the words, but also the grace and strength of the music and the emotions that this song stirs in singers and listeners, Gilchrist offers artwork that goes beyond visual representation to make a personal statement, "full of faith . . . full of hope." Music and lyrics are appended on the last double-page spread, followed by the artist's note.
Hazel Rochman
All ages. Widely known as the African American national anthem, Johnson's song is combined here with dramatic linocut prints by the celebrated artist Elizabeth Catlett. The song was originally written for schoolchildren at an Abraham Lincoln birthday celebration in 1900. The pictures were originally created in the 1940s as part of Catlett's series on black women through history. Together they make not a literal matching of words and illustrations but a powerful image of ordinary people enduring through hard times. The book design is clear and handsome: on the right-hand page of each double-page spread a few lines of the song are framed by turquoise and black geometric borders; on the facing page is a print, usually in black-and-white. At the end of the book is the full sheet music. Catlett has lived in Mexico since the 1940s, and her art is reminiscent of Diego Rivera's murals, with strong, swirling lines, almost like sculpture at times. Most of the prints are portraits of women--some famous and militant, like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman; some unknown, their individual figures set against field and city. One unforgettable picture focuses on a weary woman riding the bus behind the "Colored Only" sign; her face makes us imagine her story. Another print shows two women facing each other but alone, segregated city blocks in the background. The art expresses what Jim Haskins says in the introduction about Johnson's song: "it was honest about all the suffering black Americans had undergone but celebrated our triumph over that suffering."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786806263
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 12/1/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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