Thursday, March 18, 2010

Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993) 

Marian Anderson--World-Famous Contralto
Like many African American artists, Marian Anderson, born in Philadelphia in 1902, achieved fame in Europe before doors of opportunity were opened in the U.S. In 1939 when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, D. C., first lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her D.A.R. membership, and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes offered Anderson the use of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday. She accepted and more than 75,000 people attended the event. Later in the year, when the NAACP awarded their Spingarn Medal to Anderson, Mrs. Roosevelt made the presentation. Anderson's concert and other assaults against unjust treatment of African American performers ultimately led to the lowering of barriers in the arts.

NAME: Marian Anderson

DATE OF BIRTH: February 27, 1897 – according to her birth certificate. (Throughout her life she gave her birthdate as February 17, 1902.)

PLACE OF BIRTH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia

EDUCATION: Marian attended William Penn High School (focusing on a commercial education course to get a job) until her music vocation arose. She transferred to South Philadelphia High School, focusing on music and singing frequently at assemblies, and graduating at age 18. She applied for admission to a local music school, but was coldly rejected because of her color.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Marian’s musical career began quite early, at the local Baptist church in which her father was very active. She joined the junior choir at age six. Before long, she was nicknamed “The Baby Contralto.” When she was eight, her father bought a piano from his brother, but they could not afford any lessons so Marian taught herself.

Throughout her life, Marian had experienced racism, but the most famous event occurred in 1939. Hurok tried to rent Washington, D.C.’s Constitutional Hall, the city’s foremost center, but was told no dates were available. Washington was segregated and even the hall had segregated seating. In 1935, the hall instated a new clause: “concert by white artists only.” Hurok would have walked away with the response he’d received, but a rival manager asked about renting the hall for the same dates and was told they were open. The hall’s director told Hurok the truth, even yelling before slamming down the phone, “No Negro will ever appear in this hall while I am manager.”
See the complete article at the WOMEN IN HISTORY site