Inside the University of Florida Phillips Center, Richard Spencer was about to take the stage Thursday to spread his message of white supremacy. Outside, bells chimed a message of unity.
"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.
Lift Every Voice and Sing began as a poem written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 at Jacksonville's all-black Stanton School to be part of a celebration for Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
Johnson, a civil rights activist, was also the school's principal. Johnson's brother, John Rosamond Johnson put the poem to music.
The song was later adopted by the NAACP as its official song in 1919. It became a staple during the civil rights movement and remains a musical tradition in social, political and religious events in the African-American community.