Friday, January 23, 2009

In Case this went Unnoticed

Few remarked on the poignant history and poetic relevance of Aretha Franklin's beautiful rendition of "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Except perhaps for Queen Latifah, who mentioned Marian Anderson briefly the day before amid the din of a star-studded concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1939, the great African American opera singer Marian Anderson was barred by the racist "Daughters of the American Revolution" from giving a concert at the DAR hall. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt immediately cancelled her membership with the DAR and invited Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial.

In 2009, Aretha Franklin sang before millions of people, come to celebrate our first African American president. With the Lincoln Memorial shimmering in the distance, as if floating above a sea of humanity, the symbolism of the occasion could not be more beautifully drawn: We hold these truths to be self-evident a step closer across the generations. And a song.

1 comment:

PatEsposisto said...

truths to be self-evident a step closer across the generations.

Yes, it really does seem to be happening, this shift in thinking. Thank you for placing this in the historical context. I hadn't heard about the Marian Anderson concert. Thank you, Eleanor Roosevelt, as well, wherever you watch from. And to this shift in thought that didn't even question or wonder at Aretha singing for our country.