A Voice Still Rings 75 Years Later

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

Great Big Broadway Shows

For those who love the many charms of old-fashioned theater and movie optimism, we remember the upbeat presence of actor Mickey Rooney in a lifetime of wide-ranging roles. Rooney's ability to sing and dance his way into our hearts is a key to his lasting popularity. Author Tim Federle, whose books include "Better Nate Than Never" and "Five, Six, Seven, Nate," understands the power of musical theater, having been a Broadway dancer himself. Tim turns his experiences into backstage stories enjoyed by readers of all ages. Here he describes what he appreciates in children's literature and how he tries to write with humor, realism, and as a cockeyed optimist:

Find both of Tim's books at Bank Street Bookstore, 610 West 112th Street, (212) 678-1654. Order online at