Skip to main content

MN teacher leads 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' in the Oval Office

Abdul Wright was visiting the White House as Minnesota's 2016 Teacher of the Year.

Abdul Wright, an eighth-grade language arts instructor at The Best Academy, was named Minnesota's Teacher of the Year nearly 12 months ago.

And this week he found himself in the White House. With the president. Leading a group in the singing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Wright joined 54 others teachers of the year from around the country (at least one from every state according to the White House) as President Donald Trump honored the national Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee of Massachusetts.

The teachers all gathered around the president's desk in the Oval Office as he made his remarks.

According to MPR News, after one teacher asked if they could all say the Pledge of Allegiance, Wright asked if they could sing the Black National Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" as well. Here he is talking to MPR News about it:

The Washington Post also wrote about how this year's White House ceremony was "rather weird" compared to previous years, with little discussion among the president and teachers, and family members who came with kept out of the ceremony.

The Best Academy, where Wright teaches, was started in 2008 to focus on the "unique education needs of African-American boys," according to its website.

There are an estimated 875 students enrolled in the school now, and nearly all of them are black. Nine out of every 10 students there qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch, the school's most recent annual report says.

According to PBS, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was originally written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson. It was first performed on Feb. 12, 1900, after Johnson's brother set it to music – school children sang it in celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Later on, the NAACP named it its official song, and is described by PBS as "one of the most cherished songs of the African American Civil Rights Movement."

Earlier this month, Education Minnesota named the 11 finalists for the 2017 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced May 7.

Next Up

Dave Hutchinson

Dave Hutchinson has police license suspended for 30 days

The sheriff's suspension will begin on Nov. 22.

minnesota bureau of criminal apprehension - bca

Man with sword, officers who shot him in North Branch identified

The 31-year-old was shot multiple times in the Friday incident.

Jeff Plush

MN-based USA Curling 'reviewing' report that CEO ignored abuse in NWSL

Jeff Plush is under fire for multiple allegations made by U.S. women soccer players.

Axdahl's Garden Farm & Greenhouse

7 Minnesota pumpkin patches to visit this fall

Plenty of patches to pick the best pumpkin

slushy snow

Sven Sundgaard responds to AccuWeather's winter forecast

Take anything beyond a couple weeks with a grain of salt, warns meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.

1024px-Rage_Against_The_Machine

Rage Against the Machine cancels rest of tour, including MN shows

The cancellations include a 2023 stop at the Target Center.

Screen Shot 2022-10-04 at 11.03.16 AM

Watch: Speeding drivers use Minneapolis bike lanes to overtake

Community members have called for better safety precautions in response.

Jamal Smith

Jamal Smith sentenced to life for Plymouth road rage killing

A guilty verdict was determined by a jury this summer.

Related

Screen Shot 2020-01-17 at 7.38.30 AM

MN Teacher of Year takes a knee before president at NCAA Championship game

Kelly Holstine was the 2018 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

A Minnesota company is showing off its goods at the White House

One company from each state was invited to the White House's "Made in America" event.

What Franken and Klobuchar asked during the Sally Yates hearing

Both of Minnesotas senators were part of the big Russia/2016 election/Mike Flynn hearing Monday.

More than a quarter of MN teachers find a new line of work within 3 years

The Education Department says the number of teachers leaving their jobs is way up

minnetonka high school

Union says teachers being left out of reopening discussions by some MN school districts

Teachers in Minnetonka are among those calling for changes to the district's reopening plan.

What MN's lawmakers have said about the EPA, Trump's executive order

A look at MInnesota's U.S. senators and representatives, and their comments on the environment.

Video: New Orleans teachers occupy kids by singing during tornado shelter-in-place

Plessy School was sheltering in place during the tornado warnings for the New Orleans area.