The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights

by Russell Freedman


View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Monday, October 22?   Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.
    Same Day shipping in Manhattan. 
    See Details


The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman

Marian Anderson Loved to Sing. Her deep, rich voice thrilled audiences the world over. By the mid-1930s she was a famed vocalist who had been applauded by European royalty, welcomed at the White House, and adored by appreciative listeners in concert halls across the United States. But because of her race, she was denied the right to sing at Constitution Hall, Washington's largest and finest auditorium. Though Marian Anderson was not a crusader or a spokesperson by nature, her response to this injustice catapulted her into the center of the civil rights movement of the time. She came to stand for all black artists -- and for all Americans of color -- when, with the help of prominent figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt, she gave a landmark performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that broke racial barriers and hastened the end of segregation in the arts.

Drawing on Anderson's own writings and other first-person accounts, Newbery medalist Russell Freedman shows readers a singer pursuing her art in the context of the social and political climate of the day. Profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs, here is an inspiring account of the life of a talented, determined artist who left her mark on musical and social history. Russell Freedman was aware that Marian Anderson was one of the great vocal artists of the 20th century. He hadn't thought of writing a book about her, however, until he found out about the encounter between her and Eleanor Roosevelt that led to the Lincoln Memorial concert and established Anderson as a seminal figure in the civil rights movement. Mr. Freedman is the acclaimed author of more than 40 nonfiction books for young people, He is also the recipient of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his body of work. Mr. Freedman lives in New York City

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547480343
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 01/03/2011
Pages: 114
Sales rank: 411,544
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile: 1180L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 12 Years

About the Author

Russell Freedman received the Newbery Medal for LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY. He is also the recipient of three Newbery Honors, the Sibert Medal, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and was selected to give the 2006 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Mr. Freedman lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

1Easter Sunday, April 9, 19391
2Twenty-five Cents a Song5
3A Voice in a Thousand21
4Marian Fever33
5Banned by the DAR47
6Singing to the Nation59
7Breaking Barriers71
8"What I Had Was Singing"91
Chapter Notes95
Selected Bibliography101
Selected Discography105
Acknowledgments and Picture Credits107

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"a fully realized portrait of a musical artist and her outstanding, handsome biography. Freedman at his best." KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred reviews Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"Freedman provides thrilling accounts...copious quotes...allow her resonant voice—and personal grace—to fill these pages...An engrossing biography." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review Publishers Weekly, Starred

"This inspiting work once again demonstrates Freedman's talent for showing how a person's life is molded by its historical and cultural context." SLJ School Library Journal, Starred

"In his signature prose, plain yet eloquent. Freedman tells Anderson's triumphant story . . . Older readers and adults will want this too." BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA

"Freedman offers the story of a movement encapsulated in the biography of an extraordinary African-American woman." BCCB Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"a masterful biography...The prose is sharp and clean with generous use of quotations...a superb choice." VOYA VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
edspicer on LibraryThing 2 days ago
On page 66 and 67 of this book is a two-page photo spread of Marion Anderson singing from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter 1939. Perhaps she is singing ¿America.¿ Maybe as the photographer snapped the picture she is saying the words, ¿sweet land of liberty¿¿ The photograph is a grainy black and white picture. In the background is the Washington Monument. The sky is overcast. The wind is blowing. Marion is wearing a black mink coat. It is cold. Thousands and thousands of people pack this picture and they are there on this cold day simply because this woman could sing. She is singing. Singing for free. A gift, a generous gift to the nation from a talented black singer who was not allowed to sing in Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution because of her race. Singing even though she could not stay in any Washington hotels and had to travel from Philadelphia to sing that Easter because of her race.As Freedman does so well, The Voice that Challenged a Nation is an exquisite blend of text and photograph. I love the fact that Freedman leaves out any attempt to put a caption on the photo spread discussed above; the picture alone is sufficient. On page 55 is a copy of the Saturday, March 4, 1929 Pittsburgh Courier (Philadelphia Edition) headline that reads, ¿MRS. ROOSEVELT QUITS D.A.R.¿ with the story of Mrs. Roosevelt¿s criticism of D.A.R. for excluding Marion Anderson from their concert hall, a perfect example of using historical materials to place the reader properly in the mood of the times.Marion Anderson¿s primary interest was singing. She practiced from the time she was a young girl until she stopped performing late in life. She studied in Europe. She performed in concert halls throughout the world. She never sought a political spotlight, never tried to become anything other than the best singer she could be. Freedman shows us that her talent forced her into the spotlight; forced her to represent black artists around the world; drove her into positions of authority, such as her appointment as a United Nations delegate; and earned her honors like the Presidential Medal of Freedom (which put her in the spotlight even more). Marion Anderson becomes a person we wish we lived near, a person we wished we grew up knowing, a person whose music we want to start collecting; she becomes someone we admire. Freedman allows Anderson¿s own words to tell the story, primary documents to focus our attention, and quotes from her friends and families to shape our feelings, while Freedman steps graciously out of her way. This is what elevates Freedman¿s books over other biographies. It is too bad this book does not come with music and a stereo system, although there are times reading this book and looking at the pictures, you will swear it does.
lleighton05 on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Critique: Genre: This book gives the story of Marian Anderson's life from the view of another person. Great research has been done to make her story accurate. It portrays her amazing singing talent and how her race as an African American affects what she was able to do. It also shows how she helped fight for equal rights. Plot: The plot line follows the life of Marian Anderson. It initially starts out with her singing at the Lincoln Memorial, one of the greatest moments of her career and her life. Then it follows her life in chronological order. There is no specific climax, but an ongoing conflict of African Americans struggling for equal rights. It uses her life to demonstrate just one aspect in the fight for equality. Media: photography
avcr on LibraryThing 2 days ago
I am ashamed to admit that before reading this book, I had never heard of Marian Anderson¿whew, now that¿s off my chest, let me just say that in the same vein as Rosa Parks, where the opprobrious inquietude of white society constructs forces the timidity of souls to speak out and condemn injustice for what it is, Marian was not a natural activist, but as history reveals; supreme gifts force ultimate engagements. Marian¿s Father died of a head injury when Marian was 12, she attended a racially mixed grammar school in South Philadelphia, but learned that despite the lack of segregation, racism and prejudice abounded and prevented true interaction. Marian was part Native American. Her Grandfather converted to Judaism; she was a regular in church and was a senior member in the Union Baptist Church, where she developed her singing talent. She also learned to play the piano, and was greatly influenced by Tenor, Roland Hayes. When she went to enroll in Music School, she was coldly informed that they ¿don¿t take colored¿ (p.12). After that stinging blow, it becomes clear why the DAR rejection catapulted her into activist. With the help of Eleanor Roosevelt, Anderson broke down racial barriers and was the first African American to win the prestigious Philadelphia Medal (Bok Award) in 1941. While Freedman¿s voice is dry, it is clean and precise; and the rest, as they say, is history¿a definite must for all.Award: Newbery Medal
eduscapes on LibraryThing 7 days ago
This is another great book by Russell Freedman. Through photographs and interesting text, this book traces the challenges faced by Marian Anderson.
JenLG More than 1 year ago
A Beautiful Voice That Broke Barriers This complete biography of Marian Anderson is extremely insightful into her life and musical career as an acclaimed African-American female vocalist. The biography paints a very detailed and balanced portrait of this amazing contralto opera singer who became a musical phenomenon during the civil rights era. It is evident that the author conducted extensive and "meticulous research to craft" this detailed biography. (Temple, Martinez, & Yokota, 2011, p. 376) The book also contains many high quality photographs throughout which complement the text and the specific times in Marian's life that are revealed. It really provides perspective on what life was like for Marian, including her hopes and fears, her goals and aspirations, and her amazing accomplishments. There are many of Marian's personal quotes included throughout the book which allow the reader to get to know what Marian was like and what her personality was. Overall, this well-written biography proves to be more that just an informational book, but also serves as an inspirational and enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buttercup45 More than 1 year ago
Russell Freedman demonstrates to his readers a singer pursuing her art despite the obvious racial limitations that limited the careers of black performers in the 1920's and 1930's. Though not a civil rights activist per say, Marian Anderson became a leader for all black artists and for all Americans of color when she gave her landmark 1939 performance of "Let Freedom Ring" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which most significantly changed the outcome of segregation in the arts. This story is a moving detailed account of the ever so talented Marian Anderson. and her poignant mark that she left in civil rights history. This inspiring story of determination and hope filled me with insight to what it must have felt to know you have this amazing gift and are not allowed to share it with your fellow man because of the social and racial restraints that are present in that time. The story is filled with dramatic photos and is told in such a intense way that I could not help but be transported back to such an unsettling time. This story will surely inspire the reader, and depict the feel of the racial and political climate of that era. Carefully researched, expertly told, and dramatically illustrated with contemporary photographs, here is a moving account of the life of a talented and determined artist who left her mark on musical and social history. The audience for this chapter book can be recommended for a fourth or fifth grader because it relays important historical events that are sure to encompass valuable history lessons, but it is most definitely better appreciated by at least an upper middle school-er and high school student. Through Marian Anderson's story I was enlightened as well as disheartened but in the end I was tremendously overjoyed. A true underdog story and I was thrilled with the ending. Definitely a chapter book meant to be on every educators shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dkj More than 1 year ago
I was unaware of the journey Marion Anderson faced. The book gives great details of this time era in a different perspective than normally told. She was a great artist and world respected except in her own country. But I believe she finally gained the respect of our country and it was well deserved. I loved the book and definetly recommend it for reading.