Monday, April 09, 2012

Today in History...And How It Hasn't Changed Much...

So today in 1939, an estimated 75,000 people were at the Lincoln Memorial to hear famed contralto Marian Anderson sing. Not to mention the millions who tuned in to their radios to hear her. She was supposed to sing at Constitution Hall, but the Daughters of the American Revolution nixed that.


Her crime was "singing while black."

Listen up:

Tell me this doesn't send shivers up your spine. Don't listen to the "style" because she was very much a classicist and sometimes that turns people off. Listen to the tone. The purity of the notes. The gift from Heaven of that voice.

And then look at why she wasn't allowed in Constitution Hall. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was so miffed at the DAR that she withdrew her own membership, and helped Anderson (along with FDR, of course!) to set up that concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

Marian Anderson was a fascinating woman. She was the first black woman to sing at Metropolitan Opera. She was an "accidental" civil rights activist. She had an amazing concert career.

And the reason I'm saying not much has changed is because of the recent decision to NOT bring the Trayvon Martin case to a Grand Jury. Yep. And Trayvon's only apparent crime was 'walking while black' - and George Zimmerman may very well get away with murder.

Yes, I'm sure there's more to the story. But the bald facts are that the "Stand Your Ground" Laws (a/k/a Stalk and Shoot) do not apply under this case. Zimmerman was told (on tape) to NOT pursue Martin. Yet he did. Begs the question of *who* gets to "stand your ground" - though the answer appears to be "the one with the gun."

So. Marian Anderson, celebrated contralto, can't sing, back in the late 30s. And Trayvon Martin dies in 2012. Because of skin color.

I thought we were better than this. Apparently, and sadly, I'm wrong.

No comments: