12019-03-12T23:56:25+00:00Stanford University Pressaf84c3e11fe030c51c61bbd190fa82a3a1a1282415plainpublished2019-11-04T21:01:33+00:00Production Editor7a3dce28be212b1ba5b4a7a50f3d6a8d76b58c74On April 15, 1939, the Chicago Defenderreported on contralto Marian Anderson’s landmark performance before 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial. “Intolerance received one of the heaviest blows of the ages Easter Sunday,” the Defender wrote, “when Marian Anderson, internationally acclaimed contralto, sang from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial here to what was considered the largest single audience ever to attend an affair of this kind in the United States.”
Anderson was invited to sing in Washington as part of a Howard University concert series, but the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let Anderson perform at Constitution Hall because she was black. NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White had the idea to move the concert outdoors to the Lincoln Memorial, and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes managed the logistics and led Anderson to the stage.
The Norfolk Journal and Guide emphasized the importance of Anderson’s concert taking place on a religious holy day: “Easter Sunday is the day on which Jesus Christ triumphed over the evil of the crucifixion. Appropriately, the anniversary of the Resurrection is the date on which America’s great symbol of figurative crucifixion, Marian Anderson, will rise from the grave to which she had been consigned by prejudice and discrimination.” (Click to view article PDF.)