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A King Celebration 2003

Timeline: Dr. King and African-American Music

1929
Jan. 15 - Martin Luther King is born in Atlanta.

1931
Premiere of Afro-American Symphony by William Grant Still, Rochester, NY. (CD recording: Chandos CHAN9154)

1932
James P. Johnson composes the Harlem Symphony. (CD: MusicMasters 01612-67140-2)

1933
Death of Sisserita Jones, African-American concert artists, who was one of the most sought-after operatic performers of her time.

1935
Todd Duncan, first black singer at the New York City Opera, also creates the role of Porgy in a Broadway production of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, New York. (CD: MCA MCAD-10520)

1939
Marian Anderson sings at the Lincoln Memorial after being banned by the Daughters of the American Revolution from Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

1941
Dean Dixon, one of the first black Americans to conduct a major orchestra, makes his debut with the NBC Symphony.

1943
Duke Ellington inaugurates a series of annual concerts at Carnegie Hall with Black, Brown, and Beige.

1948
King graduates from Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Sixteen-year-old double bassist Henry Lewis debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is believed to be the first African-American named to a permanent position with an American orchestra.

1953
King marries Coretta Scott - a voice major at The New England Conservatory in Boston.

1954
King assumes pastorship of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

1955
Dr. King receives a Ph.D. in theology from Boston University.
Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery for refusing to give up her bus seat.

Dr. King leads a successful non-violent protest against segregated public transportation. The boycott lasts 12 months.

Marian Anderson makes her debut with the Metropolitan Opera, becoming the first African American ever to sing with the opera company.

1958
Paul Robeson resumes an international career with a concert at Carnegie Hall after being blacklisted in the early 1950s as a communist sympathizer.

1959
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is founded, with Dr. King as its president.

1963
Dr. King delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech to several hundred thousand people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington, D.C. for civil rights.

Sixteen year-old pianist André Watts appears in a New York Philharmonic Young People's Concert, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

1965
Dr. King and 770 marchers are arrested in Selma as they protest Alabama's voter registration laws. Dr. King is released five days later. The protest continues, and on March 7, five hundred demonstrators are attacked by Selma police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they begin a march to Montgomery.

Dr. King receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, on December 10.

1968
Dr. King is assassinated April 4 on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where he was leading a strike by the city's sanitation workers.

Henry Lewis conducts the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in a bombed-out Newark building in the wake of riots following King's assassination. Henry Lewis was given the post of permanent musical director of the New Jersey Symphony. He was the first black man to be appointed to that position with a professional orchestra in the United States.

1969
The Dance Theatre of Harlem, founded in 1968 by Arthur Mitchell, is incorporated.

1972
Scott Joplin becomes the first African-American to receive the Pulitzer Prize, awarded posthumously for his opera Treemonisha. In 1975, Gunther Schuller orchestrated the work for a fully staged production by the Houston Grand Opera. (CD - Deutshe Grammophon 2-435709-2 GX2)