Contralto Marian Anderson possessed one of the most beautiful voices of her day, but she was not allowed to perform in prestigious auditoriums in this country because in 1939, many of them were segregated. Anderson's most famous concert took place 75 years ago today on the National Mall in Washington, DC, because she was denied the right to sing at Constitution Hall.
After being turned down at the performance hall, Eleanor Roosevelt and other prominent people of the day made it possible for an open-air concert to take place at the Lincoln Memorial. Over 75,000 people attended the event on a chilly April evening and were priviliged to hear Anderson's perfectly pure voice, starting with "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" and ending with three traditional spirituals.
The story is well told in a children's book by Pam Munoz Ryan (author) and Brian Selznick (illustrator). Visit Bank Street Bookstore for a copy of "When Marian Sang" or order online at www.bankstreetbooks.com.