Did you notice “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem, was sung at George Floyd’s funeral?

James Weldon Johnson’s song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was the inspiration for Augusta Savage’s statue for the 1939 World’s Fair. Augusta was given the daunting task of making a sculpture that would highlight the African-American gift of song and music. In my book Graven Images, her friend James asks, “How can you make a song into a sculpture? A song isn’t something you see.”

Well, she could, and here she is in the process of making the sculpture.

The finished project was a harp–16 feet tall. The strings were a line of singing children. The base was a gigantic arm and hand with the fingers curving up, symbolizing God’s hand. A kneeling young man offered a plaque with notes to represent the musical gift of music to the American people. It was the most popular piece of sculpture at the fair.

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