Marian Anderson was born on February 27, 1897. Her father sold ice and coal, and her mother, who loved teaching, could not find a job because the city where they lived did not allow black school teachers. Marian loved to sing, and when she was just six years old, her uncle encouraged her to join the junior choir at church. Marian became enraptured by music, and she loved it whenever her aunt would take her to concerts. She soon began a musical career at a very young age, receiving 25-50 cents for every few songs she would sing.
When Marian was just twelve years old, her father died of heart failure from a work accident. After that, Marian and her family had to move. Her family could not afford to send her to high school, much less give her music lessons. Even in this hard time, Marian did not give up. She still sang at church, and seeing her need, the church community raised money for Marian to attend high school and get a musical education as well. After she graduated high school, Marian applied to Philadelphia Music Academy, but was turned away because she was black. Not to be discouraged, she continued taking private singing lessons.
Because of her color, Marian’s singing career seemed to be going nowhere. When she was refused permission to sing at Constitution Hall, Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others stepped up to her defense. They arranged for her to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where everyone could hear. This is what Marian is now most famous for.
Marian’s career took off, and she sang with the Metropolitan Opera, for Dwight Eisenhower and John. F. Kennedy’s inaugurations, and eventually got to sing at Constitution Hall.
Why She Inspires Me: Marian Anderson never gave up. She followed what she loved to do, as well as what God was calling her to do even when a lot of people were against her. She didn’t hesitate to ask for help when she needed it. Sometimes people tend to try and do everything and fix everything on their own, but it takes someone with a lot of courage to ask for help. You may feel weak or vulnerable when you ask for a hand, but God knows what he’s doing and will work in your life through others.
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For more on Marian Anderson, I recommend this book: When Marian Sang by Brian Selznick and Pam Munoz Ryan.