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Augusta Savage
Lift Every Voice and Sing
1939
Photograph by Carl Van Vechten
James Weldon Johnson Papers

The organizing committee of the 1939 New York World’s Fair commissioned Augusta Savage’s 16-foot-tall painted plaster sculpture, Lift Every Voice and Sing, to be displayed on the fairgrounds. Savage titled the piece after James Weldon and Rosamund Johnson’s song of the same name, a song so important in African-American communities that it was often called the “National Negro Anthem.” Though the committee approved Savage’s title—they did so only after they asked her to sing the song—when the World’s Fair opened, they decided to call the piece “The Harp,” in spite of Savage’s objections.
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Augusta Savage

 

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