April 12, 2009
In 1939, on Easter Sunday, contralto Marian Anderson performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution barred her from singing at Constitution Hall.
On April 12, 2009, seventy years after Anderson set the stage for the modern civil rights era, acclaimed mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves performed at the Lincoln Memorial in a joyous Easter Sunday Concert paying tribute to Marian Anderson's performance.
Graves was joined by the internationally renowned a capella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock and the world famous Chicago Children’s Choir.
Born in 1897, Marian Anderson was described as having “a voice heard once in a hundred years.” Yet in 1939, she was denied the right to perform in Washington, DC’s Constitution Hall due to the color of her skin. Through the efforts of Anderson, the NAACP, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, arrangements were made to hold the concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Sponsored by the McCormick Foundation and others, the Marian Anderson tribute also featured a naturalization ceremony of 191 new American citizens representing 56 countries. Gen. Colin Powell, the son of two Jamaican immigrants, delivered the key note address.
The picturesque day concluded with the U.S. Marine Band performing John Philip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
Details from the tribute concert and naturalization ceremony can be found in the event program. For photos from the day, click here.
Watch the video of the Concert: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.
**On April 5, 2009 the Washington, DC Newseum commorated the life and time of Marian Anderson with "Inside Media: Lincoln Memorial Memories".