The city of Denver has already begun to celebrate the Democratic National Convention, which officially begins less than two months from now. Pre-events have included the Colorful Food Watch and the Festival of Unpaid Bills, and yesterday’s State of the City speech began with Leftist Patriotism on Display. Instead of singing the national anthem as requested, Rene Marie replaced it with a protest song:
Mayor John Hickenlooper’s annual State of the City address may get more attention for what wasn’t included than what was.
At the start of the event Tuesday morning, City Council President Michael Hancock introduced singer Rene Marie to perform the national anthem.
Instead, she performed the song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is also known as the “black national anthem.”
When she finished, the audience responded with mild applause. The national anthem was never performed.
Hickenlooper and city officials got caught completely by surprise, as Marie kept her intentions hidden until the actual performance. None of them acted to stop her or lead the crowd in the actual national anthem either, but by the time they would have realized what was happening, it was probably all over. Marie wanted to make a political statement, and succeeded — in setting off a firestorm.
Angry officials and residents lit up talk-radio phone lines in Denver afterwards. Councilman Charlie Brown declared that the US has one national anthem for all Americans, and that the Star Spangled Banner was the appropriate choice for the event. Marie could express herself in any number of venues, Brown noted, but that official city events should feature the actual American national anthem.
In addressing the media, Marie displayed the self-centeredness of people who hijack events for their own aggrandizement. “When I decided to sing my version, what was going on in my head was: ‘I want to express how I feel about living in the United States, as a black woman, as a black person,” she explained. However, the event wasn’t staged to give Marie a platform for her political views; it was an official speech by the Mayor to communicate the status of city government to its citizens.
Unfortunately, Denver had better get used to this kind of It’s all about how I feel as a [blank] thought process over the next two months.
Update: Be sure to read Baldilock’s take on this, which offers a little implicit criticism for me. In my defense, I never asserted that the song itself was Leftist, but rather the ridiculous display yesterday was. Otherwise, she’s dead on point.