Vanessa Williams sparked controversy on social media after performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black National Anthem, for a Fourth of July performance at the Capitol.

The performance aired on PBS’s A Capitol Fourth on Sunday and was hosted by Williams who began the special singing “Lift Every Voice.” While promoting the 41st year of the annual special, the first black Miss America spoke of the significance of the performance.

“It’s in celebration of the wonderful opportunity that we now have to celebrate Juneteenth,” she said. “So we are reflective of the times.”

The backlash on Twitter began on Saturday against the performance just after it was announced on Twitter.

Lavern Spicer, a Republican candidate in Florida’s 24th District, tweeted, “Vanessa honey, a BLACK national anthem is something a Black African Country would have, not a country like America that exists for everyone,”

Greg Kelly, a host on Newsmax, expressed his displeasure with the performance tweeting:

“THIS IS BAD. Different Races will have their own holidays? Their own Anthems? The new SEGREGATION. Vanessa Williams to sing ‘Black national anthem’ for Capitol Fourth celebration.”

Comedian Tim Young also voiced his concerns of separate national anthems, sharing a video on Twitter:

“So what’s the Asian national anthem? What’s the Native American national anthem? What’s the Latino national anthem?” Young began. “I don’t even know what the white national anthem is because I don’t think that way. If you’re gonna do the separate but equal bull****, at least do it all. Go all in, commit. This isn’t unity, this is stupid.”

Others tweeted their support for the performance while it was airing live on TV, including journalist and author Sophia A. Nelson and author Karen Dalton Beninato appreciating William’s speech about the song’s ties to history:

Nelson tweeted,”#VanessaWilliams looks fabulous! She is singing the black national anthem. I ❤️this! #ACapitolFourth #July4th #HappyIndependenceDay”

Beninato tweeted,”Vanessa Williams dedicates The Black National Anthem to her ancestors, and our new national holiday Juneteenth.❤️#July4thPBS #ACapitolFourth.”

Father Edward Beck congratulated Williams tweeting:

“This is so ridiculous. It’s unfortunate that we still deal with this kind of nonsense. I will be tuning in to hear both beautiful anthems. Congratulations ⁦@VWOfficial⁩ and thank you for your grace and for helping to lift every voice.”

William’s displayed her gratitude towards being an American on Instagram the next day sharing a picture of patriotic deserts writing: “How sweet it is to be an American🇺🇸 Unity. Freedom. Liberty.”


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