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Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson (1897–1993) was an American contralto. She performed a wide range of music, from opera to spirituals, in major concert and recital venues between 1925 and 1965. Anderson was an important figure in the struggle for African-American artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. In 1939, after being prohibited from performing for an integrated audience in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt arranged for Anderson to perform in an open-air concert on Easter Sunday on the Lincoln Memorial steps in the capital which was broadcast to a radio audience of millions and was featured in a documentary film. In 1955, Anderson became the first African-American singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. She worked as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United States Department of State, giving concerts all over the world. She participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, singing at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Anderson was awarded the first Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Congressional Gold Medal in 1977, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, the National Medal of Arts in 1986, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.

This portrait photograph of Anderson in a formal gown was taken in 1940.Photograph credit: Carl Van Vechten; restored by Adam Cuerden