On "Lift Every Voice: Marian Anderson, Florence B. Price And The Sound Of Black Sisterhood"

After reading NPR article “Lift Every Voice: Marian Anderson, Florence B. Price And The Sound Of Black Sisterhood” written by Alisha Jones, I learned of Marian Anderson and Florence Price’s contributions, especially the way they broke barriers and paved paths for other Black, female musicians. 

Breaking Barriers

Anderson was able to touch lives inter- and intraculturally; she resonated with white audiences by performing with grace and rootedness while also being an embodiment of strength, perseverance, and black musical advancement. She cracked the glass ceiling for other black female composers by promoting their work in a world that wouldn’t give it a second glance, while also working with organizations such as the National Association for Negro Musicians. 

One thing that stuck out to me in particular was the significance of her fur coat. In the Black community, older black women pass expensive coats down to younger women as a way of wishing them wealth and success. The mink coat is a symbol of black love and wealth, as well as steadfastness in the face of hardship.

Marian Anderson sings at the Lincoln Memorial, 1939. Even as her mink coat might have served practical purposes, it was also richly symbolic.

"When will we listen to black women?"

This newsreel story is from Anderson’s groundbreaking performance of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” at the Lincoln Memorial. The headline reads, “Nation’s Capital Gets A Lesson on Tolerance,” implying that allowing a black woman to perform takes an act of tolerance. Her performance was seen as a statement of political resistance or inclusivity just because her skin was black. As a young black person, it is easy to forget the scale of discrimination our grandparents experienced when our age. Even the small things like this distinction of “tolerance” is a reminder of how far we’ve come, but also a reminder that we still have a ways to go.