I was thinking about my Dad today, and in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King I have a special person I would like to introduce some of you to.
Her name was Marian Anderson, and she was one of the most amazing opera singers of her time. She sang everywhere in Europe and had a voice that was breathtaking. Thinking of my Dad because he was the one who told me about Ms Anderson when I was six, sitting in our living room off La Joya listening to a live Met broadcast like we did every Saturday. I can still hear his voice telling me that this amazing woman with a voice of an angel wanted to sing at the Met, but the directors at the time sad no. Whites only! Undaunted, Marian looked for a place to sing. The First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband President Franklin D Roosevelt, solved this problem by inviting her to sing at the Lincoln Memorial. So Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, Marian Sang to more than 75,000 people.
The National Archives recorded and preserved the concert. To listen to the whole radio broadcast of the concert click here
This book means a lot to me because Ms. Anderson was both a beautiful singer and someone who my Dad adored. She pioneered equality for artists of color long before there was a Civil Rights Movement and did it simply by being so good she could demand things like she would only perform to mixed audiences.
The illustrator: Brian Selznick, who won his own Caldecott award for his book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, uses sepia tones and stylized people to convey the sense of time until the last page where the only bit of true color in the whole book is Ms Anderson on stage, singing at the Met…The First singer of color ever to perform there. I am not familiar with Pam Munoz Ryan’s books, but this story focuses on Ms Anderson’s life and her singing. I adore this book and read it often.
It should be in our library soon, so look for it to be featured along with other stories of important Civil Rights pioneers in the coming weeks.