April 9, 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that renowned contralto Marian Anderson performed to an unprecedented audience of 75,000 people. While it saddens us that DAR played a role in this story because Ms. Anderson, an African American, was not allowed to perform that day in 1939 in DAR Constitution Hall due to her race, we must accept that this is a part of our organization’s history and show how much DAR has changed since that time.
The concert undeniably made a huge impact on our country and on our organization during a time that was still on the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. The country and the DAR have grown very much in these past 75 years. Our organization is proud that Marian Anderson performed in DAR Constitution Hall numerous times after 1939 and we have been pleased to join with her family and others at DAR Headquarters on several occasions to celebrate Ms. Anderson’s life and legacy.
We are especially honored to be hosting “Of Thee We Sing: The Marian Anderson 75th Anniversary Celebration” in DAR Constitution Hall on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS), this event celebrates the life and legacy of Marian Anderson with an all-star concert hosted by the celebrated American soprano Jessye Norman, and will feature guest appearances from a number of artists as well as a narrative that shines light on various parts of Ms. Anderson’s life. For more information on the concert, please visit www.wpas.org.
The Executive Committee and I look forward to attending the concert as we celebrate the talent, strength and courage of a truly remarkable and inspiring American woman.
If you or others have questions about the history between Marian Anderson and the DAR, please visit and share our webpage dedicated to Ms. Anderson at www.dar.org/mariananderson.
A number of biographies of Ms. Anderson do a very thorough and fair retelling of the complicated events leading up to the 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert as well as subsequent performances by Marian Anderson in DAR Constitution Hall. Two such publications include “Marian Anderson: A Singer’s Journey,” by Allan Keiler (2002) and “The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America,” by Raymond Arsenault (2010).
While this anniversary reflects on a sad time for racial equality in the DAR as well as our nation’s history, please remember that we are celebrating a beautiful event and a brave woman who sparked much needed change in our country. The Daughters of the American Revolution is proud to honor Marian Anderson and the historic concert that was a transformative moment in making America a better place for us all 75 years later.