MARIAN ANDERSON

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By Tim Sullivan

Today's fierce female is a diva in the purest sense of the word, Marian Anderson.

Growing up singing in her Baptist Church in South Philadelphia, she was turned away when she applied for the Philadelphia Music Academy with a simple "we don't take colored."

After she got her break winning a singing contest for the New York Philharmonic, she began singing concert halls in the US before embarking on a hugely successful European tour. She found European audiences to be far more tolerant and focused on her talent rather than the color of her skin.

In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow her to perform at Constitution Hall because she was black. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from their organization as a result and helped arrange a concert for her to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as a result. Over 75,000 people turned up on the National Mall to hear her sing, and millions more heard the broadcast over radio.

In 1955, she became the first black singer to perform with the Metropolitan Opera. She performed for a number of presidents before becoming one of the inaugural recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our highest civilian honor, in 1963.

"As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might."

"You lose a lot of time hating people."

"I suppose I might insist on making issues of things. But that is not my nature, and I always bear in mind that my mission is to leave behind me the kind of impression that will make it easier for those who follow."

"When you stop having dreams and ideals - well, you might as well stop altogether."

"Everyone has a gift for something, even if it is the gift of being a good friend."

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