This week’s Black History Month spotlight is on African-American firsts in arts and entertainment. Today’s featured artist is singer Marian Anderson.
Born on February 27, 1897, Marian Anderson was one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Her beautiful, contralto voice broke many racial barriers in the arts throughout her long, illustrious career. In fact, Anderson was the first African-American member of the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1955. After the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to grant Anderson permission to perform in front of an integrated audience at Constitution hall in 1939, President and First Lady Roosevelt helped her perform an open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that same year to a live audience of 75,000 people and millions of radio listeners. Anderson also lent her voice to such causes as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, as well as many other civil rights issues.
Marian Anderson performing “My Country Tis of Thee” at the Lincoln Memorial