Archive for the ‘John Fitzgerald Kennedy’ Tag

Feast of Marian Anderson (February 29)   3 comments

Above:  Marian Anderson Performing at the Lincoln Memorial, 1939

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

MARIAN ANDERSON FISHER (FEBRUARY 27, 1897-APRIL 8, 1993)

African-American Singer and Civil Rights Activist

Marian Anderson comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Anderson grew up in a devout Christian home.  She, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 27, 1897, was one of three daughters of Annie Delilah Rucker (1874-1964) and John Berkeley Anderson (c. 1872-1910).  Annie, who did not have a college degree, had taught in Virginia.  She could not teach in Pennsylvania, however; a state law barred African Americans (yet not whites) without a college degree from teaching.  So Annie took care of children for a living.  John sold coal and ice at the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia.  Eventually, he added another source of revenue–selling liquor.  The Andersons were active in Union Baptist Church, South Philadelphia.  All three daughters sang.  Our saint joined the church’s junior choir when she was six years old.  She joined the People’s Chorus in the city four years later.  Marian performed solos in both choirs.

Church and family helped Anderson achieve her potential.  Her father died when she was 12 years old.  Annie and the three daughters moved in with John’s parents.  In 1912 our saint graduated from Stanton Grammar School, but her family could not afford to send her to high school and to take music lessons.  Anderson’s church eventually paid for her to take music lessons and to attend South Philadelphia High School.  Our saint graduated in 1921.

Racism proved to be a professional obstacle for Anderson in the United States.  She, rejected from the Philadelphia Music Academy because of her skin color, studied music privately.  In 1925 our saint won a contest in New York Philharmonic sponsored.  The prize was a concert, at which she performed with the orchestra.  The date of that concert was August 26, 1925.  Anderson continued to study music privately.  She performed at Carnegie Hall for the first time in 1928.  Our saint’s career outside her native country was more successful than in the United States.  In 1937 she was in Princeton, New Jersey, to perform in Princeton, New Jersey.  When a hotel turned Anderson away because of her race, Professor Albert Einstein invited her to be his guest.  This was not the last time Anderson spent time with the Einstein family.

Perhaps Anderson’s most famous concert was her performance at the Lincoln Memorial, in 1939.  The Daughters of the American Revolution had denied our saint the opportunity to sing at Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for a larger, better venue instead.  Anderson finally sang at Constitution Hall in 1943.

Anderson was a trailblazer.  She performed the role of Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City.  In so doing, our saint became the first African American to perform for that opera company.  The intensely patriotic vocalist, who entertained military personnel during World War II and the Korean War, also performed at President Dwight Eisenhower’s second inauguration (1957) and President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration (1961).  Eisenhower appointed Anderson to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (1958f).  Furthermore, our saint, active in the Civil Rights Movement, received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

Anderson married architect Orpheus H. Fisher (1900-1986) on July 17, 1943.  She thereby became the stepmother of Fisher’s son, James.  Our saint, who lived on a farm near Danbury, Connecticut, from 1940 to 1992, retired on April 10, 1965, the date of her last performance at Carnegie Hall.

Anderson moved to Portland, Oregon, to reside with her nephew, James DePriest, a conductor in 1992.  She died in that city on April 8, 1993.  Our saint was 96 years old.

Anderson had a simple, non-judgmental faith she learned from her mother.  She trusted in God without condemning people whose theology differed from hers.  God, as our saint understood God, was loving and providential.

Marian Anderson’s life spanned decades of much cultural and legal change, especially regarding matters of race.  She helped to create some of that change; our saint did her part to leave the world and the United States of America better than they had been.  Events of the last few years have proven (as if anyone needed evidence) that any talk of the “death of racism” is ridiculous.

The work of fighting racism has fallen to those of us who still have pulses.  May we do our parts, so that those who follow us chronologically will have less work to do in this arena than they would otherwise.

I remember the casual racism around which I grew up.  My parents raised me to reject racism, but many people around me had a different attitude.  Seldom did any of these racists–classmates or some of my father’s parishioners, usually–bother to use code words in lieu of slurs.  I recall know that this language and the bias behind it were wrong.  Yet I also know that some of that racism rubbed off on me, as if by osmosis.  Some thoughts I know to be immoral occur sometimes.  Only God and I know when this happens, for I never express these thoughts.  No, I confess them to God and seek forgiveness.  I entertain the better angels of my nature.

The beginning of resisting racism in society, an institution, a community, et cetera, is choosing not to cave into it as it manifests withing oneself, unless one is a rare person who lacks any trace of racism.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILHELM WEXELS, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; HIS NIECE, MARIE WEXELSEN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER; LUDWIG LINDEMAN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST AND MUSICOLOGIST; AND MAGNUS LANDSTAD, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, FOLKLORIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF BRADFORD TORREY, U.S. ORNITHOLOGIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHANN GOTTFRIED WEBER, GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WOOLMAN, QUAKER ABOLITIONIST

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Marian Anderson,

to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Chris, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++