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The Friday Fierceness: Nice Girls Don’t Join the DAR Edition | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Friday Fierceness: Nice Girls Don’t Join the DAR Edition

I’ve played Constitution Hall. Well, okay, technically it was 9th grade and I was in the school band playing Pomp and Circumstance over and over again (think Sartre)  for our high school graduation, but I was in Constitution Hall and I was playing an instrument and so I’m counting it.

I almost wasn’t allowed to go.

I almost wasn’t allowed to go because of this woman:

Miss Marian Anderson

Singer Marian Anderson.

See, back in 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution, who own Constitution Hall refused to let Anderson –who was one of the most popular classical vocalists in the world– perform at Constitution Hall because she wasn’t white.

Eleanor Roosevelt –right-minded old broad that she was– resigned from the DAR and helped organize Anderson’s famous Easter concert at the Lincoln Memorial, attended by over 75,000 folks.

The Audience
(seriously, if this doesn’t give you goosebumps, you have lizards in your soul)

At the Lincoln Memorial
“I forgave the DAR many years ago. You lose a lot of time hating people.”

with Leonard Bernstein
“Prejudice is like a hair across your cheek. You can’t see it, you can’t find it with your fingers, but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating.”

in 1955 Anderson was the first black American to sing at the Met
“The minute a person whose word means a great deal to others dare to take the open-hearted and courageous way, many others follow.”

with Eleanor Roosevelt
“As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might.”

the woman could wear the heck out of an opera coat
“I suppose I might insist on making issues of things. But that is not my nature, and I always bear in mind that my mission is to leave behind me the kind of impression that will make it easier for those who follow.”

For a goosebump par excellence experience check out this incredible speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and hear Ms Anderson sing “My Country ’tis of Thee”

Happy Independence Day gang.  Celebrate it if you’ve got it.

11 Responses to “The Friday Fierceness: Nice Girls Don’t Join the DAR Edition”

  1. Tiff July 3, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    How did I miss that you grew up in DC? And yes, Marian Anderson is Teh Fierce. Also? The seats in Constitution Hall are, shall we say, less than hospitable to the Big Girl. So I’m pretty much not a fan of DAR at all.

  2. Margo July 3, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    Stunning.Thanks Plumcake. Marian Anderson reminded me that I haven’t got one plinkin’ reason to feel sorry for myself.

  3. gemdiva July 3, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    Now that’s what I call a double dose of fierceness…the fiercely gifted Marian Anderson and the fiercely strong willed Eleanor Roosevelt. God Bless ’em both!

  4. Whitney July 3, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    Way back in the day (right about the time Michael Jackson traded in his first nose) I was invited by the DAR via my history teacher to take the exam for their history scholarship. At the time I was desperately trying to scrounge money to get into Georgetown, and I was pretty much guaranteed being the winner for the local chapter…but I just couldn’t do it. I passed along my regrets, though, and rather than bring up Marian Anderson I put down my reluctance to the fact that they probably wouldn’t appreciate giving the money to someone who is the Daughter-of-Fought-on-the-Wrong-Side (Many-Times-Great-Grandpa was a Hessian).

  5. abdabs July 3, 2009 at 10:14 pm #

    What a grand story!

    And I have lived in ignorance to this day that “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” is exactly the same tune as “God Save the Queen” (or King, as needs be).

  6. Twistie July 4, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    When I grow up, I want to be as strong and as wise as and even a quarter as generous as Marian Anderson.

    If I recall correctly, she was also the first woman of color to sing on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, thus helping to pave the way for another diva I adore, Leontyne Price…as well as a great many other talented singers.

  7. Jennie July 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I am putting this on my Facebook page! Happy Independence Day to all US residents and have a fun Saturday the 4th to everyone else!

  8. class factotum July 5, 2009 at 9:21 pm #

    Does the DAR still have this practice?

  9. Plumcake July 6, 2009 at 4:38 am #

    Class Factotum, no, the DAR is integrated as far as I know.

  10. class factotum July 6, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    So it is now OK to join?

  11. Patti July 6, 2009 at 3:21 pm #

    Ok Plumcake you have skyrocketed into the stratosphere of love and diviness in my opinion. If I’m not telling my age too much I had the privilege to see MS Anderson when I was a child of 9 or 11 (I don’t remember the date) at the Lyric Opera house in Baltimore. She made chills run up my spine her singing was so beautiful. The fact that you would take the time to spotlight her works on this wonderful blog makes me have faith in human nature and the beauty of people in general, even right now when I’m sitting amongst backstabbers and mean spiritied folks here at work. Thank you for remininding me of many wonderful things. You are to be lauded to the heights!!!!!!!!!