The California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is calling on lawmakers to strip "The Star-Spangled Banner" of its status as the national anthem.
The state civil rights organization has been circulating two petitions in the California State Legislature, one that calls the song "one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon," and another that praises former NFL player Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, the Sacramento Bee reported.
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"This song is wrong; it should have never been there, and just we didn’t have it until 1931, it won’t kill us if it goes away," California NAACP President Alice Huffman told CBS Sacramento.
"It’s racist, it doesn’t represent our community, it’s anti-black people," she continued.
At issue is the third, rarely-sung verse of the Francis Scott Key's poem, which proclaims that "no refuge could save the hireling and slave/ From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave."
Hoffman claims the lyric refers to the killing of African-American slaves. Some scholars do believe the stanza refers to the Corps of Colonial Marines, escaped slaves who fought for the British in the War of 1812.
"This is not about the flag. We love the flag," Hoffman said. "This is about a song that should never have been the national anthem."