Carillonneur and University of Florida music professor Laura Ellis rang the bells on campus yesterday as white supremacist Richard Spencer readied to speak onstage – the notes of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” rang through the air.
Laura Ellis, a music professor at the university, went up 11 flights of stairs in the school’s carillon tower on Thursday to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the black national anthem.
“I think it was an appropriate time to play this song, to show our support for those who need it the most,” Ellis told CNN.
The story includes background on the carillon and on the song, which became the NAACP’s official song in 1919 and became a musical icon in the years following, from the civil rights era to present day.
On Thursday, the sound of bells echoed through campus, as police officers in riot gear, Spencer’s supporters and anti-Spencer protesters carrying signs against fascism, neo-Nazis and white supremacy flooded the school.
“I think the UF students really unified against hate and presented an image of love that overwhelmed any negativity. I think it was super important and fitting to play that song today, and it left me feeling comforted and unified,” said Elizabeth Parker, one Ellis’ students.
The University of Florida tweeted video:
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” – J. Rosamund Johnson (1873-1954), arr. Courter
Performed by the University of Florida Carillon Studio. pic.twitter.com/jbDOlVS92b
— FLORIDA (@UF) October 19, 2017