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Let Our Rejoicing Rise

In celebration of Black History Month at UIC and in recognition of how Black women’s voice and performance have been important to Black struggle and resistance, we lift up the now-familiar song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” written by James Weldon Johnson and set to music by J. Rosamond Johnson in 1899, with three opportunities for the UIC community:

Dr. Sonya Donaldson wearing a light yellow coat and smiling toward the camera

Singing the Nation: Memory, Meaning, and Resistance in “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

Thursday, February 25, 2021
Video coming soon!

Dr. Sonya Donaldson, New Jersey City University, presented on the ways Black women’s voices have been used in public performances, including “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” to promote a sense of “we-ness” at different moments in U.S. history.

Visit Dr. Donaldson’s digital humanities project, Singing the Nation into Being.

Thanks to the UIC African American Cultural Center and Honors College for co-sponsoring this Black History Month keynote lecture.

Crystal Kelley Schwartz and Dr. Johari Jabir smiling toward the camera.

Signing the Nation: ASL Performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

Thursday, March 18, 2021
Video coming soon!

Celebrate Black Deaf communities and the expressive power of American Sign Language!

Crystal Kelley Schwartz, performer and educator, joined us for a performance and exploration of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” popularly known as the Black National Anthem, and taught us a portion of the song in ASL.

Dr. Johari Jabir, musician, scholar, and faculty in UIC Black Studies, provided an introduction.

Thank you to the UIC Disability Cultural Center for co-sponsoring this event.

Red and black text on a beige background with black music notes and red circles

Call for Submissions: Let Our Rejoicing Rise


We invite UIC students to submit a video recording responding to the following prompts:

  1. What are your earliest memories of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”?
  2. Given this current historical moment, tell us what the song means to you.
  3. Sing as many verses of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as you can.

Performances and stories will be featured as part of the “Singing The Nation into Being” digital humanities project led by Dr. Sonya Donaldson.

Please send your submissions by March 30, 2021 to

Co-sponsored by the UIC African American Cultural Center.