What We Want
- Marian Anderson Singing at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., 1939
- Robert S. Scurlock
- Gelatin silver print
- National Museum of American History, Behring Center, Archives Center
- Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994
- Image No. 618ns0227139-01
After completing an intensive tour across the United States in 1938, throughout which she performed seventy vocal recitals, opera singer Marian Anderson and her manager decided to try booking concerts at some of the premier venues in larger American cities. Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., was a choice location, and Anderson attempted to book a concert there in early 1939; however, the hall’s owners, the Daughters of the American Revolution, refused to host a performance by an African American. In protest, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR, and Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes invited Anderson to perform in public at the Lincoln Memorial on the morning of April 9, 1939—Easter Sunday. Local photographer Robert Scurlock caught Anderson in this photograph, one of a series of images, as she performed at the memorial before a record-breaking crowd of more than seventy-five thousand people. The historic concert was broadcast over the radio to the homes of millions of Americans.