All throughout the first half of the 20th Century, African American schoolchildren learned the James Weldon Johnson song in school and church. It was only natural that the civil rights workers could connect with their audiences by someone staring this song.

Johnson wrote the song as a poem and it was set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson. Its themes are struggle and patriotism.

This continues a survey of songs of the Civil Rights era, leading up to the dedication of the Rev. Martin L. King, Jr. memorial next Sunday.

Here’s a nontraditional version of “Lift Every Voice” from Ray Charles and the Raelettes. Amen.