On this day in 1897, Marian Anderson, trailblazing singer and civil rights icon, was born in Philadelphia

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First lady Eleanor Roosevelt is shown with opera singer Marian Anderson at Richmond, Va., July 2, 1939, after the first lady made a presentation of the Spingarn Medal to the singer. The medal is given to black Americans in any "honorable field of endeavor." Occasion was conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (AP Photo)
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Born on February 27, 1897, in Philadelphia, Marian Anderson became one of the 20th century’s most celebrated singers.

As a child, her church choir supported her with funds for vocal lessons. Anderson’s career flourished as she won opportunities to perform, including an invitation to the White House by President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor in 1936.

In 1939, Anderson faced discrimination from the Daughters of the American Revolution, prompting Eleanor Roosevelt to arrange a historic performance at the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1955, Anderson became the first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Her contributions were further recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

Anderson’s legacy endured until her passing at the age of 96 in 1993.


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