Twenty four years before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his I Have a Dream Speech, a black woman stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and sang to an unprecedented, integrated audience of 75,000 people. This is her previously untold story.
Born to a working class family in South Philadelphia, Marian Anderson fell passionately in love with classical music at a time when operas were predominantly white.
An exceptionally versatile contralto with a three-octave vocal range, she sang in six languages and was embraced as musical royalty in Europe. But when she returned to the segregated United States in 1939, she was denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC due to racial prejudice.
Suddenly caught in the crosshairs of a national controversy and personal crisis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and many others advocated for her to perform an unprecedented, racially-integrated concert that would be a forerunner to the Civil Rights Movement.
Marian’s voice unified a segregated America. The political environment in the U.S. is the most divided since the Civil War. We need her story to spark one song of inclusion and forgiveness.