@ National Portrait Gallery
DescriptionInternationally acclaimed contralto Marian Anderson became a powerful symbol in the American struggle for racial equality in the spring of 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution barred her from performing at Washington’s Constitution Hall. Responding to the D.A.R.’s actions, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt renounced her membership in the organization and helped make it possible for Anderson to perform instead at the Lincoln Memorial before a crowd of 75,000. One of the twentieth century’s most outstanding singers, Anderson was admired for the rich timbre and exceptional range of her voice, as well as for the deep feeling with which she sang. Long in demand as a concert artist both at home and abroad, Anderson became the first African American to sing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera on January 7, 1955.In photographing Anderson, Karsh captured the quiet dignity that was an essential part of her character.
Gelatin Silver Print
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh