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THE VOICE THAT CHALLENGED A NATION by Russell Freedman Kirkus Star


Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights

by Russell Freedman

Age Range: 9 & up

Pub Date: April 19th, 2004
ISBN: 0-618-15976-2
Publisher: Clarion

She had played the major cities in Europe, appeared before filled-to-capacity halls throughout the US, and been welcomed at the White House, but famous contralto Marian Anderson was turned down by Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The Daughters of the American Revolution, headquartered there, stood by their “white artists only” policy and wouldn’t let her perform. But officials at Howard University, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others who believed in equal rights teamed up to organize a free public performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. On Easter Sunday, 1939, Anderson performed before 75,000 people and a national radio audience in an event that sent “a powerful message of defiance against the injustice of bigotry and racial discrimination.” Anderson never saw herself as an activist, though, and Freedman never treats her as a symbol. He offers instead a fully realized portrait of a musical artist and her times. Well-chosen, well-placed archival photographs, clear writing, abundant research seamlessly woven into the text, and careful documentation make an outstanding, handsome biography. Freedman at his best. (Nonfiction. 9+)