Lift Every Voice and Sing

“Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sometimes referred to as the “Black National Anthem,” is a hymn written in 1900 that is sung in churches across the U.S.A. Its lyrics evoke images of overcoming hardship and acknowledge the sacrifice and toil of those who came before us.

Wade in the Water

“Wade in the Water” is an African-American spiritual traditionally sung by enslaved peoples and is often associated with the Underground Railroad. These lyrics were used to uplift spirits and encourage resilience during slavery. Ultimately, this is a song about enduring hardship and maintaining strength and faith in the face of injustice.

What does justice look like to you? Share your thoughts below to inspire future videos.


Testimonies to Justice. Time can never alter a movement that is just.
Black and white photo of a small group within a peaceful 1960s civil rights protest. The mostly black men are wearing dark suits, hats, and skinny ties. A young black woman in a sleeveless white dress looks in another direction. At front, a young white man looks intently at the camera.

The U.S. Civil Rights Era of the 1960s produced a canon of songs that are still largely part of our culture today. When we think of Justice, many of these songs come to mind. This season, Kentucky Opera is revisiting this historic music that remains meaningful still today. We are inviting our community to submit poems, photos, sayings and adages that express your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes toward the civil justice movement of today. What does justice look like? Have you ever committed or experienced an injustice? What does justice mean to you? Please submit your content below.

Baritone and Composer Jorell Williams

What will Kentucky Opera do with these submissions? These submissions will be anonymous and will inspire the composition of a set of original songs for our community, written by baritone and composer Jorell Williams.

Opera begins with story. We hope you'll tell us yours.