Marian Anderson was an American opera singer. She made her debut in the New York Philharmonic in 1925 and sang at Carnegie Hall for the first time in 1928. She toured Europe in the 1930s. Upon her return, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused her permission to sing, leading thousands of members including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to leave the group. The District of Columbia school board also barred her from using school auditoriums. The Roosevelts, Anderson’s manager and the NAACP convinced the Secretary of the Interior to have Anderson hold a concert at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 75,000 people of all colors attended and millions tuned in on the radio on Easter Sunday 1939.
Four years later, Anderson was invited by the DAR to sing for a benefit for the American Red Cross. In 1955, she baecame the first African-American to sing at the New York Metropolitan Opera.
She became an official UN Goodwill Ambassador in 1958. In 1963, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was awarded a UN Peace Prize in 1972.
The Marian Anderson Award is given to artists who exhibit leadership in a humanitarian areas. The recipients have included Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Quincy Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Gere, Sidney Poitier and Gregory Peck.