Should John Lennon's 'Imagine' Be U.S. Anthem?
Activist Kevin Powell has proposed making John Lennon’s classic “Imagine” the new U.S. national anthem.
Powell, author of the just-released book When We Free the World, told Yahoo! Entertainment it is time to rethink “The Star-Spangled Banner” because its writer Francis Scott Key was born into a family that owned slaves.
Key’s 1814 poem was set to the tune of the popular British song “To Anacreon in Heaven” and, in 1931, adopted as the U.S. national anthem. Left out is the third verse, which includes the lines: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave / And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Powell said Key was a successful lawyer in Washington, D.C. who became close to president Andrew Jackson, whose presidency was filled with “a lot of hate and violence and division.”
He added: “At that time, there were attacks on Native Americans and Black folks — both free Black folks and folks who were slaves — and Francis Scott Key was very much a part of that.”
Powell said Lennon’s 1971 song “Imagine” would be a worthy replacement because it is “the most beautiful, unifying, all-people, all-backgrounds-together kind of song you could have.”
Americans, of course, are unlikely to embrace a national anthem written by a British rock star – especially since it calls on people to imagine a world “with no religion, too.”
Lennon sang: “Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us, only sky / Imagine all the people / Living for today."
Listen to music from John Lennon & the Beatles