Daily VideoApril 10, 2014
Marian Anderson and the concert that challenged racism
Seventy-five years ago Marian Anderson sang to a crowd of 75,000 in front of the Lincoln Memorial in a stirring statement against racism.
Three-quarters-of-a-century later, young people gathered at the same spot to honor Marian Anderson and commemorate her Easter Day concert.
At the time of the performance, Anderson was already a well-established name on European stages, but when her agent tried to book her into Washington’s Constitution Hall, the all-white organization Daughters of the American Revolution refused. No dates were available, Anderson was told. The schedule of performers for the music hall made the message quite clear: white artists only.
An alternative performance at the Lincoln Memorial was arranged by supporters, who included President Franklin Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt.
Anderson and her two sisters were raised by their mother in Philadelphia. She sang in her Baptist church choir and at age 15, took her first formal music lessons. When Anderson was 30, she traveled to Europe to establish herself in a more welcoming environment, as many black performers at the time did.
She returned home in 1935 and was again confronted by a segregated America.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. The Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library is commemorating the bill’s passage with a summit this week that will feature remarks from four living presidents: President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton and President Obama.
Warm up questions
- What do you know about the Civil Rights Movement that took place in the United States during the decades of the 50’s and 60’s? Who were the leaders? What were some of the most important moments?
- What strategies did those fighting racism employ to defeat prejudice?
- How did Marian Anderson handle being told she could not sing at the DAR Constitution Hall? What was the impact of her courageous act?
- Does racism still exist in the United States? Where do you see it or hear it? What can you do to fight discrimination in your community?
First describe Marian Anderson’s act of bravery and defiance and then explain why it was such an important moment in the Civil Rights Movement 75 years ago.
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
As a transgender boy growing up in rural Maine, Alex Myers had to fight for visibility; today, he travels around the country educating students on the transgender community. Continue reading
When high school student Matt Garrett sat at a lunch table with a classmate who began describing detailed plans for a violent attack, he knew he had to speak up. Continue reading
Hundreds of people are feared dead after a migrant boat capsized while traveling from North Africa to Europe. Continue reading
Five years after a massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, the area is still grappling with the consequences. Continue reading
The plaintiffs claim that the government is responsible for protecting the atmosphere under the Public Trust Doctrine. Continue reading