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Today in History — Marian Anderson Concert at the Lincoln Memorial
On April 9,1939, 75,000 people attended Marian Anderson’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Hundreds of thousands more heard the concert over the radio.
The operatic first half of the program concluded with Ave Maria. After a short intermission, she then sang a selection of spirituals familiar to the African American members of her audience. And with tears in her eyes, Marian Anderson closed the concert with an encore, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.
The DAR’s refusal to grant Marian Anderson the use of Constitution Hall, Eleanor Roosevelt’s resignation from the DAR in protest, and the resulting concert at the Lincoln Memorial combined into a watershed moment in civil rights history, bringing national attention to the country’s color barrier as no other event had previously done.
Mrs. Roosevelt and Marian Anderson remained friends for the rest of Mrs. Roosevelt’s life. Marian Anderson continued to sing in venues around the world, including singing the National Anthem at President Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. She died in 1993 at the age of 96.
Photo: 75,000 People Gather to Hear Singer Marian Anderson in Potomac Park, 4/9/39.
-from the FDR Library
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