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Marian Anderson and the DAR: 1939


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From the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial
Marian Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial, 1939

Marian Anderson sings from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Getty Images / Pictorial Parade

In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to rent their concert facilities in their Washington, D.C., headquarters at Constitution Hall for a concert by Marian Anderson, citing their racial segregation standard. Many were outraged; the most public protest was by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt quite publicly resigned her membership in the DAR in protest, and helped the NAACP make arrangements for Anderson to appear on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The audience was estimated to be 75,000, which was among the largest crowds at the National Mall up to that time.

This event helped inspire many in the civil rights movement in the next decades.

Four years after this 1939 event, the DAR asked Marian Anderson to sing at Constitution Hall as part of a China relief concert.

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