Marian Anderson: My Lord, What a Morning

(1956)

“Easter Sunday,” an excerpt from Marian Anderson’s autobiography, My Lord, What a Morning (1956) details the world-renowned contralto’s recollections of her most famous performance. A landmark in African American history and a prelude to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Anderson’s 1939 Easter Sunday concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., developed when the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) denied her the opportunity to perform at Constitution Hall because of her race. Led by Walter White, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an interracial coalition of influential individuals and organizations turned Anderson’s plight into a national cause célèbre.

The mobilization of liberal outrage began in January 1939 and took on new life in late February after First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt publicly resigned from the DAR as a result of their snubbing of Anderson. In the weeks that followed,...

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Marian Anderson (Library of Congress)

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