To Hear Marian Anderson's Rendition Of
" My Country, 'Tis of Thee"
On January 7, 1955 Anderson Appeared At The Metropolitan Opera In New York, As Ulrica In Verdi's Masked Ball --- Making Her The First Black American To Perform At The Met. Considered The Greatest Contralto Of Her Time, Anderson Was Told By Famed Conductor, Artuno Toscanini, "A Voice Like Yours Comes Once In A Century."
As Celebrated As She Was, Anderson Was Not Immune To Racism. In 1939, The Daughters Of The American Revolution (DAR) Refused Permission For Anderson To Sing To An Integrated Audience In Constitution Hall. The District Of Columbia Board of Education Declined A Request To Use The Auditorium Of A White Public High School. As A Result Of The Ensuing Furor, Thousands Of DAR Members, Including Then First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, Resigned.
Subsequently, The Roosevelts, Along With Walter White, Executive Secretary Of The NAACP, And Anderson's Manager, Impresario, Sol Hurok, Persuaded Secretary Of The Interior Harold L. Ickes, To Arrange An Open Air Marian Anderson Concert on The Steps Of The Lincoln Memorial.The Concert, Which Took Place Easter Sunday, 1939, Began With A Dignified And Stirring Rendition Of " My Country, 'Tis of Thee," And Attracted An Integrated Crowd Of More Than 75,000. It Was Heard On National Radio By An Audience Of Millions. In 1943, Marian Did Finally Perform At Constitution Hall, At A Benefit For Chinese Relief. In Addition, She Insisted The DAR Suspend Its Segregated Seating Policy For The Concert. On April 19, 1965, Easter Sunday, Marian Anderson Gave Her Final Concert At Carnegie Hall, Following A Year-Long Farewell Tour.
Among The Honors She Received Prior To Her Death, April 8, 1993: The NAACP Spingarn Medal (1939), The Presidential Medal of Freedom (1963) And The UN Peace Prize (1973).
"In Order For Black History To Live, We Must Continue To Breathe Life Into It." -- Hubert Gaddy, Jr.
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