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Biographies Unit Biographies

Marian Anderson 1897–1993
A Talented Singer

Marian Anderson first started singing in her church choir in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when she was a young girl. Her singing voice was strong and beautiful. Later, Anderson sang in concerts in the United States and in Asia, Europe, and South America. People all over the world loved to hear her sing.

Anderson lived during a time when African Americans were not treated fairly in our country. In 1939, she wanted to sing in a concert hall in Washington, D.C. Anderson was told that she was not allowed to sing there because she was African American. Many people knew this was wrong. Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady, was one of those people. Roosevelt arranged for Anderson to sing outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., instead. A huge crowd of about 75,000 people came to hear her sing there. Anderson began her concert by singing “America,” a song about our country. Many people felt moved by Anderson's singing.

Marian Anderson did not let unfair treatment stop her from singing. She spent most of her life singing in concerts. Anderson won many awards for her amazing voice.

Comprehension Check

Why did people all over the world like to hear Anderson sing?

Critical Thinking

What word would you use to describe Marian Anderson? Explain your answer.