Dear Student Body,
A few weeks before the rally it was brought to our attention that the National Anthem’s third verse is outdated and racially insensitive.
I have said this before and I will say this again, that ASB stands for Associated Student Body, that means for all. After learning about the third verse, the other ASB officers and I thought that this was completely unacceptable and must be removed from the rally.
We had nothing but good intentions by removing the song so that we could be fully inclusive to our student body. More specifically, the third verse of our National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” states:
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and home of the brave.”
We understand that this third verse is not included when the anthem is performed, but still, what does this tell us? This verse translated, finds joy in the killing of African-Americans. To think that our nation’s anthem once had the word slave and “land of the free” in the same sentence leaves me speechless.
Moving forward, we must take action and be inclusive to all. This song was written in 1814.
That was written 204 years ago. Imagine all the traditions and laws that have changed. The 15th Amendment granted African Americans the right to vote in 1870.
Finally, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 fully allowed African Americans to vote, and outlawed legal barriers that prevented African Americans from voting.
The 19th Amendment, also known as women’s suffrage, allowed women the right to vote in 1920.
President Barack Obama became the first African American President on Nov. 5, 2008.
As our culture shifts to one that is more diverse and accepting of all types of people, so must our traditions.
To the people who are upset with this decision: I hear you, but we plan to keep our stance.
And although we understand that this anthem represents pride and patriotism in our country to many people, we believe that there are other ways that this can be accomplished without an expense to inclusivity on our campus.
To those who were unaware of the controversy surrounding the National Anthem, I encourage you to take initiative and learn about this topic.
If anyone wants to learn more and is curious about this, please stop into 114. I would love to share what I have learned with any student who is interested.
Our main focus this year in leadership is to reflect on our past and current practices with a major focus on the messages that we convey to the student body.
No longer are we doing things for solely the sake of “tradition.” Moreover, we’re not the only school that does not include the National Anthem in their rallies.
While we understand that there was some confusion about why the anthem was missing from the winter rally, we are so pleased that this choice created a dialogue about tradition and inclusivity