This article appeared in the June 30, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Is the US national anthem a racist song?

Rick Bowmer/AP
Players for the Washington Spirit kneel during the national anthem before an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match against the Chicago Red Stars at Zions Bank Stadium June 27, 2020, in Herriman, Utah.
David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

Is it time to ditch “The Star-Spangled Banner”?

The U.S. national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key – an anti-abolitionist who enslaved people. The seldom-sung third stanza includes these lines: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”

As Americans question every racist facet of their history, some are calling for an anthem that better represents the nation’s values. And some are calling for an end to playing the song at sports events. Major League Soccer says it won’t play the anthem at a tournament next week. And a semipro soccer league in Tulsa, Oklahoma, also made the same call this week, saying, “the song does not align with the club’s core values.”

What’s the right approach here? I don’t know. But this rendition of the U.S. anthem – without the third stanza – suggests one path forward.

Madisen Hallberg, a senior at Portland State University, was recently practicing for a graduation ceremony. Emmanuel Henreid, a trained opera singer, was walking by and spontaneously joined in. The resulting impromptu duet symbolizes what our nation needs now, Ms. Hallberg told ABC News. Rather than trying to “out-sing the person next to you,” we should “blend with them and harmonize with them.”

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This article appeared in the June 30, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 06/30 edition
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