Today In History – April 9

On April 9, 1934, Marian Anderson made history by performing to a massive Easter Sunday crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

At the time, Marian Anderson was one of the most renowned classical singers in the world. However, in the 1930s, segregation was at its height, and most public places were inaccessible to black people. Howard University’s student organization initiated the concert in response to Anderson being denied a performance at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution because of her race.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial. From 2:45 to 3:45 pm on that Easter Sunday, Anderson sang in front of over seventy-five thousand people, including blacks and whites, who shared a profound love for her music. Around her feet stood African American admirers, bridging the gap between the audience and the performer.

During her performance, the crowd listened to her intently, and their response was resounding applause and cheers. The outdoor venue proved to be a perfect fit for Marian Anderson’s magnificent voice.

The concert marked a significant moment in American history. It demonstrated the power of music in transcending bigotry and prejudice. Marian Anderson’s singing became an instrument in the fight against the nation’s racial difficulties, making her not only a gifted singer but a political and social symbol.

The concert also turned out to be a turning point in Anderson’s career. Her success encouraged other African American classical singers to follow in her footsteps, opening doors for those who may have previously faced the same racial barriers she encountered.

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