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Bayou Classic Celebrating 50th Anniversary In Grand Fashion

The annual Bayou Classic football game between Southern University and Grambling State University is celebrating its 50-year anniversary with a special roadshow and the pre-game singing of the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

The game will take place Nov. 25 at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Blair Dottin-Haley, the grandson of civil rights activist and Southern University alumnus Oretha Castle-Haley, will sing the anthem.

“I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity,” the New Orleans native said in a news release. “This feels like the ancestors are aligning because ‘Lift Every Voice’ was one of the first songs I ever learned. My grandmother [Oretha] and I used to play a game where I’d check the lyrics on printed programs at
events we’d attend together.”

Lift Every Voice and Sing” was a hymn written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900.

Singing at the “Super Bowl for the HBCUs” is extremely important for the entertainer, as incorporating the Black national anthem in this moment will ensure that Black cultural heritage is highlighted in all forms during the festivities.

The roadshow started Oct. 22 at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museums. The bus is decorated with the logos of the event and each of the schools as it promotes the upcoming game. Going throughout the state as well as Dallas, the mayors of each city will sign the anniversary game ball that will be featured in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

The weekend event is filled with Greek step shows, job fairs, parades and, famously, the Battle of the Bands competition. The Bayou Classic is set to have a record number of fans in attendance, but don’t worry: The game will be nationally televised.

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