On this day in 1943, Etta Moten Barnett Made History as the First African-American Performer at the White House


Schlesinger Library, RIAS, Harvard University, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons
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On January 31, 1943, Etta Moten Barnett, a Broadway star and film actress, made history as the first African-American to perform at the White House during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday party.

She delivered a rendition of “Remember My Forgotten Man,” a song she had previously sung in the 1933 movie Gold Diggers, despite not being credited for her contribution. Renowned for her contralto vocals, Barnett gained prominence for her leading role in the 1942 revival of “Porgy and Bess” on Broadway.

Maud Cuney-Hare, 1874-1936, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Born on November 5, 1901, in Weimar, Texas, she married Claude Barnett, the founder of the Associated Negro Press, in 1934. Throughout her later years, Barnett remained actively involved in various civil rights movements.

Etta Moten Barnett passed away at the age of 102 in 2004.

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