Music, Marginalization, and Racial Identities
Marian Anderson, an African-American contralto of international acclaim, sang to 75,000 people on Easter Sunday, 9 April 1939, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Her concert was the culmination of a controversy about race conducted through institutional channels and the public platform of the press. The controversy began with the refusal of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to let Anderson perform in Constitution Hall. The DAR operated under a policy which banned African Americans and other non-whites from renting their facility. After being turned down by the DAR, Howard University, the sponsor of the concert, attempted to reserve the Central High School auditorium, a white high school situated in Washington DCs segregated school district. Central and the school district representatives denied Howard — a predominantly African-American institution — use of the facility. After First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned in protest from the DAR, a nationwide controversy ensued regarding racial discrimination.
KeywordsRacial Discrimination Racial Identity Racial Formation American Dilemma White High School
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 3.S. Hall, ‘Encoding, Decoding’, The Cultural Studies Reader, ed. S. During (London: Routledge, 1993) p. 91.Google Scholar
- 4.M. Omi and H. Winant, Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1980s (New York: Routledge, 1986) p. 1–86.Google Scholar
- 5.For accounts of the 1930s African-American experience see J. H. Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, 3rd edn (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967);Google Scholar
- J. Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work and the Family from Slavery to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 1985);Google Scholar
- H. Sitkoff, ed., Fifty Years Later: The New Deal Evaluated (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1985);Google Scholar
- H. Sitkoff, A New Deal for Blacks (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978);Google Scholar
- N. J. Weiss, Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: Black Politics in the Age of FDR (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
- W. Susman, Culture as History (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984) pp. 197–8.Google Scholar
- 9.W. Susman, Culture as History, p. 153, citing R. S. Lynd, Knowledge for What? The Place of the Social Sciences in American Culture (Princeton, NJ, 1967) pp. 16, 19.Google Scholar
- 11.This attempt to reconcile the maltreatment and low societal position of African Americans with the ‘American Way’ is addressed in Gunnar Myrdal’s book The American Dilemma. He maintained that the American dilemma was the attempt to make the marginalized status of African Americans congruent with the ‘American Creed.’ The ‘American Creed’ embodied the ideals ‘of the essential dignity of the individual human being, of the fundamental equality of all men, and of certain inalienable rights to freedom, justice, and a fair opportunity’. G. Myrdal, R. Steiner, and A. Rose, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper and Row, 1962) p. 4.Google Scholar
- 20.B. Brawley, The Negro Genius: A New Appraisal of the Achievement of the American Negro in Literature and the Fine Arts (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1937) p. 9.Google Scholar