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Vanessa Williams sparks outrage for closing PBS ‘Capitol Fourth’ concert with ‘black national anthem’

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Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

Vanessa Williams and PBS both sparked major backlash after Williams helped to close the network's "Capitol Fourth" concert with the "black national anthem" — widely known as "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

The network aired its 41st annual special Sunday night.

What are the details?

Williams, who also hosted the long-running event, told the Associated Press on Friday that her decision to sing the song was in "celebration of the wonderful opportunity that we now have to celebrate Juneteenth."

"So we are reflective of the times," she said. "We are reflective of the times and I'm happy to be a part of a tremendous show that the producers are aware and willing to make the changes that have happened within the past year and a half."

Before launching into the song, Williams dedicated the performance to her ancestors.

"I dedicate this to our ancestors, to our new federal holiday Juneteenth, and to all who celebrate freedom," she said.

Earlier during the program, she also performed "God Bless America," and said that she was filled with "the spirit of freedom and the perseverance that is required to achieve that most precious right."

A Capitol Fourth 2021 | PBS youtu.be

What was the response?

Lavern Spicer, Florida Republican House candidate, tweeted, "Vanessa honey, a BLACK national anthem is something a Black African Country would have, not a country like America that exists for everyone."

Newsmax host Steve Cortes added, "We have one national anthem..."

Author Tim Young wrote, "This isn't unity... it's division."

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Rob Maness wrote, "There is only one national anthem. This is segregationism pure and simple. Shame on @JoeBiden if he doesn't demand an end to this racist activity."

Former CIA ops officer Brian Dean Wright responded, "We're witnessing the unraveling of E pluribus unum in real time. The consequences will be dire."

Another wrote, "I 100% refuse to recognize the black national anthem. We are one nation, under God and indivisible. There are no separate national anthems."

"Who's singing the Asian and Latino ones? " quipped another.

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