portrait of Marian Anderson
Portrait by Carl Van Vechten (14 January 1940)

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Quotes of the Day for 27 February 2003 – Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson was born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on this day in 1897. Her father died in 1910, her grandfather the next year, leaving Marian and her mother working menial jobs and delaying Marian's education. But she sang. Her family and her church found the funds to get her the best voice training available to a young black woman in South Philly, and she was performing in concert in 1914, soloing in 1917. But like many black artists, there was no route to her goal, a position at the Metropolitan Opera of New York City. She went to Europe, where she was a hit with the public and performed for royalty. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let her sing at Constitution Hall at Washington City. Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR, and organized a concert on Easter Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial. To my ear, the contralto is the most pleasing voice part, and by all accounts Marian Anderson had the finest contralto voice ever (with the possible exception of my wife). Her talent faith, and courage broke barriers for later black performers. She gave her final performance at Carnegie Hall on Easter in 1965.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.

No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger that its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.

Sometimes you�re overwhelmed when a thing comes, and you do not realize the magnitude of the affair at that moment. When you get away from it, you wonder, did it really happen to you?

There are many persons ready to do what is right because in their hearts they know it is right. But they hesitate, waiting for the other fellow to make the first move - and he, in turn, waits for you. The minute a person whose word means a great deal dares to take the open-hearted and courageous way, many others follow. Not everyone can be turned aside from meanness and hatred, but the great majority of Americans is heading in that direction. I have a great belief in the future of my people and my country.

I forgave the DAR many years ago. You lose a lot of time hating people.
     All from Marian Anderson, 1897 - 1993

And so it was good-bye at last. Good-bye to that broad and angular face and to that tall, forceful figure, like a Rodin sculpture, carved out of a giant block of ebony; and good-bye to those eyes which closed when she sang as if looking inward but which, when open, beamed warmth and quick response.
     - Newsweek, review of Marian Anderson�s farewell concert, 26 April 1965

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