Marian Anderson (1897–1993), a famous operatic singer during the first half of the twentieth century, enjoyed the notoriety of being the United States’ third highest concert box office draw.
Anderson’s popularity came to her in spite of the racial discrimination of her times. She was often refused hotel accommodations and service at restaurants while on tour. One of her most famous racist experiences gained national attention. In 1939, when managers at Howard University tried to arrange a concert for her in Constitution Hall, the largest and most appropriate indoor location in Washington, D.C., the organization called the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), who owned Constitution Hall, refused to allow Anderson to sing there. In response, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt helped to schedule Anderson’s concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which drew a crowd of over 70,000 people. The story of Anderson’s confrontation with the Daughters of the American Revolution became the topic of many news stories, thus bringing attention to other issues of racial discrimination that existed in the United States.
In 1954, Anderson was given the chance to sing in the role of Ulrica in the Metropolitan Opera of New York’s production of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, thus becoming the first African American to sing on the Met stage.
(The entire section is 216 words.)