Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson


A Contralto, Marian Anderson performed with renowned orchestras and on the opera scene between 1925 and 1965. She started in the U.S. but performed in Europe because of segregated audiences.

Anderson was an important figure in the struggle to overcome racial prejudice. In 1939, the Daughters of the American refused to allow Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall, D.C. With the aid of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Anderson instead performed on the Lincoln memorial steps in the capital to a crowd of more than 75,000 people.

On January 7, 1955, she became the first African-American singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. She worked as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and as a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State.

Anderson sang at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, the same year she received the first Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1991 she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.