A Super Bowl for the Ages

Super Bowl LVII, or fifty-seven for those of us that can’t count with letters, went off with a bang from start to finish.

With singers Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Kenneth “BabyFace” Edmonds doing the pre-show comprised of three songs. If not just the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “America, The Beautiful” what is that third song you may be wondering?

“Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black national anthem, was performed for the first time ever at a Super Bowl by Emmy-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.

“It is no coincidence that I will be singing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, at the Super Bowl on the same date it was first publicly performed 123 years ago (February 12, 1900),” Ralph wrote on Twitter before the game. This is important because throughout history America has been fraught with injustices against Black people, so this song being sung on such a widely recognized stage is a monument to how far Black people in America have come.

Even better, the Black national anthem while being sung was accompanied by a deaf Black ASL interpreter named Justina Miles. Miles also interpreted alongside pop-singer Rihanna for her 13-minute half-time performance, going viral on social media for her energetic performance.

‘It’s not only for me to share this experience with the whole world, but to really bring that empowerment to millions and millions of Black deaf people all over the country, who’ve never really seen that before,” she said. “And so they should feel inspired, and that’s the same way I feel. I feel like that is truly lifting every voice, even my voice,” Miles said in an interview with CNN.

There is no doubt that this year’s Super Bowl hit the mark for intersectionality and viewership. While some may argue that the NFL was over stretching the reach of their audience, therefore ruining it for their majority Eurocentric audience, I say it was only a matter of time. Black, Indigenous, people of color, handicapped, and other marginalized groups should have equal opportunity to see themselves in mainstream media. It is large steps like this by widely recognized companies like the NFL that will make this change happen.