“One Life: Marian Anderson” will be presented by Leslie Urena, curator of photographs, Smithsonian, National Portrait Gallery, at 3 p.m. May 6 as part of the free Art Matters Series offered by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
With each of her performances, the Philadelphia-born contralto, Marian Anderson (1897–1993), tested limits and broke boundaries. She is best remembered for her recital on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday in April 1939 when some 75,000 people gathered to witness her singing.
Because of her race, Miss Anderson had been prohibited from performing at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall and other venues in Washington, D.C. The concert on the National Mall became a watershed moment in the struggle against segregationist policies and discrimination.
In the aftermath of the 1939 concert, she repeatedly deﬂected questions about the controversy, as she assumed her role as a symbol of the struggle for African American equality and civil rights. Throughout her life, Miss Anderson also inspired visual artists who were moved by her voice, symbolism or bearing.
This program discusses the exhibition, “One Life: Marian Anderson,” which was on view at the National Portrait Gallery from June 2019 to March 2020. Each of the works in the exhibition explores how Miss Anderson’s life and career were crucial to the ﬁght for civil rights.
To reserve tickets for the May 6 event, visit tickets.sbma.net.
— Marilyn McMahon