Marian Anderson

The world’s greatest concert singer appeared before a packed house in Richmond, and residents of Cincinnati, Dayton, Indianapolis, Chicago and Louisville flocked to see her.

Marian Anderson was an African American contralto who gained international prominence as a concert singer. She was universally acclaimed by critics as the greatest concert singer ever, and captivated a capacity crowd at the Richmond Coliseum on May 16, 1939.

She had arrived in Richmond by train in the afternoon and returned there late that night, after what many considered the best solo concert ever in given here by an artist.

Just weeks prior, the Daughters of the American Revolution banned her performance in the Constitutional Hall in Washington D.C. She instead sang at the Lincoln memorial and drew over 75,000 people. The event focused attention on discrimination in the Nation’s Capitol.

Eleanor Roosevelt supported the affair and millions of radio listeners tuned in. The First Lady even quit her D.A.R. membership and, that cold day in Washington, loaned Anderson her coat.

Marian Anderson signified dignity, serenity and grace. When she was in Richmond right after the historic Washington concert, she received a standing ovation and several encores.

 


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June 19, 2012