May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem

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$26.00  $23.92
University of North Carolina Press
Publish Date
7.89 X 9.34 X 0.97 inches | 1.15 pounds

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About the Author

Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. Perry is the author of Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, winner of the 2019 Bograd-Weld Biography Prize from the Pen America Foundation. She is also the author of Breathe: A Letter to My Sons; Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation; and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem. Perry, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, who grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Chicago, lives outside Philadelphia with her two sons.


Perry provides exegesis and exhortation in explaining how a song captured a culture, and in turn became a cultural captive held fast by emotional ties of a diverse people; hers is a work for adolescents and academics, indeed for any readers interested in at least glimpsing a sense of a pulsing, resilient black consciousness. Highly recommended.--Library Journal, starred review

Through extensive research and eloquent writing, Perry. . . expertly sifts through the layers of black civic, social and cultural history that are inextricably linked to 'Lift Every Voice and Sing.'--San Francisco Chronicle

Excellently researched and sourced.--Michigan Historical Review

As a concise look at twentieth-century black activism through the lens of one composition, the book works exceedingly well. . . . Perry's book is a timely reminder of histories forgotten and voices unremembered.--Journal of American History

Perry has masterfully researched and written an accessible and captivating cultural history of a transformative and uplifting song adorned with lyrics that have encouraged black people while mirroring their evolution over the past hundred years.--Journal of African American History

Imani Perry has done a great service to the field of African American history in tracking this often-cited song through hundreds of black organizations, plays, and works of literature during the twentieth century. In the process, she has made clear that, at least during the age of segregation, a black nation was made in part through singing 'Lift Every Voice and Sing.'--Journal of Southern History