In 1955, Marian Anderson became the first African American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera House, but she is most remembered for the 1939 incident in which she was denied a recital venue at Constitution Hall in segregated Washington, D.C.
Instead, her Easter Sunday recital was given at Lincoln Memorial with the help of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, attracting over 75,000 listeners. This recital has been called America's first civil rights rally.
Later that year in 1939, the First Lady presented Ms. Anderson with the Spingarn Medal, awarded by the NAACP for highest achievement as an African American in his or her chosen field.
"None of us is responsible for the complexion of his skin. This fact of nature offers no clue to the character or quality of the person underneath."
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