Outrage as activists and journalists say the Star Spangled Banner should no longer be the National Anthem because it was written by slave owner Francis Scott Key – and suggest John Lennon’s Imagine as a replacement
- Historian Daniel E. Walker and author Kevin Powell believe the national anthem should be replaced
- Powell suggested it be replaced with John Lennon’s Imagine
- They point to Francis Scott Key’s history as a prolific slave owner
- Key wrote the poem that eventually became the Star Spangled Banner in 1814
- He had just watched Fort McHenry in Baltimore withstand British bombardment and was inspired by the surviving American flag flying over the harbor
- But he also defended the rights of slave owners and believed African Americans should ‘return’ to Africa, despite many being born in the US
- Critics say replacing the national anthem is taking the ongoing overhaul of culture and society too far
The Star Spangled Banner being performed at the Super Bowl in February by Demi Lovato
Walker, who is also an author, said in the interview: ‘The 53-year-old in me says, we can’t change things that have existed forever.
‘But then there are these young people who say that America needs to live up to its real creed.
‘We do it first because we knew what we were doing and we wanted to be sexist and racist. And now we do it under the guise of “legacy.”‘
The lyrics come from the 1814 poem Defence of Fort M’Henry which Key, the son of a prominent white family, wrote after watching British troops descent on Fort McHenry between September 13 and 14, 1814.
American troops defended Baltimore Harbor through the night and in the morning, Key was inspired by the sight of the American flag flying over the battlefield.
It became the national anthem in 1931.
Among the lyrics is: ‘No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
‘From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.’
Historians have long disagreed over what Key meant.
Some say he inferred that slaves who had joined the British Colonial Marines deserved to die in the battle.
Others argue that he was referring to the British forces in their entirety.
Key made other, more racist remarks elsewhere.
Powell said in the Yahoo interview: ‘The Star-Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key, who was literally born into a wealthy, slave-holding family in Maryland.
‘He was a very well-to-do lawyer in Washington, D.C., and eventually became very close to President Andrew Jackson, who was the Donald Trump of his time, which means that there was a lot of hate and violence and division.
‘At that time, there were attacks on Native Americans and Black folks — both free Black folks and folks who were slaves — and Francis Scott Key was very much a part of that.
‘He was also the brother-in-law of someone who became a Supreme Court justice, Roger Taney, who also had a very hardcore policy around slavery. And so, all of that is problematic. And the fact that Key, when he was a lawyer, also prosecuted abolitionists, both white and Black folks who wanted slavery to end, says that this is someone who really did not believe in freedom for all people.
‘And yet, we celebrate him with this national anthem, every time we sing it.
‘Francis Scott Key, he was a big-time guy in terms of the American colonization of society.
‘This was not just a person who just lived in the time period.
‘This is a person who helped define the time period.’
He and Walker are not the first to point attention towards Key and his role in history amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.
High school graduation singer Liana Morales refused to sing the song at her virtual graduation ceremony, choosing instead to sing Lift Every Voice and Sing instead.
A statue of Key in San Francisco has been toppled by protesters.
But critics leaped on calls to replace the national anthem, calling it a ‘stupid’ idea and claiming it amounted to ‘woke folk’ trying to ‘erase American History’.
Posted by Daily Mail