Remembering A Defiant, Soaring Performance By Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson, the famous African-American contralto, gave a famous performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 75 years ago today.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally today, let's end the program on a high note. Today marks 75 years since Marian Anderson, the African-American contralto, took to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to sing.

Anderson was supposed to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall, but she was barred from performing there because she was black. Let's listen to a bit of Marian Anderson's performance from April 9, 1939.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

MARIAN ANDERSON: (Singing) My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, for thee we sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

MARTIN: That was Marian Anderson performing at the Lincoln Memorial 75 years ago today. And we're going to go out on some more of her performance from that day.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ANDERSON: (Singing) Oh, the gospel train's a-coming. I hear it just at hand. I hear the coal wheels rumbling and rolling through the land. Get on board.

MARTIN: That's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ANDERSON: (Singing) I hear that train a-coming. She’s coming 'round the curve. She’s loosened all her steam and brakes from straining every nerve. Get on board, little children. Get on board, little children. Get on board, little children. There's room for many a-more. The fare is cheap and all can go. The rich and poor are there. No second class aboard this train. No difference in the fare. Get on board, little children. Get on board, little children. Get on board, little children. There's room for many a-more.

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