Few Blacks Followed Anderson's Lead

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2009 5:01 PM CDT
Musical artists singer Marian Anderson and pianist Van Cliburn (center) appear on 'S. Hurok Presents,' a 90-minute musical tribute to impresario Sol Hurok, circa 1965.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Marian Anderson shattered a racial barrier when she sang at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939—70 years ago this week—yet despite planned tributes, the power of the moment has faded, Alex Ross writes in the New Yorker. Most young people know nothing of Anderson, and "black faces remain scarce" in classical music. "A colorline persists, more often politely ignored than confronted directly."

After Anderson gained worldwide fame, musicians like Nina Simone and Miles Davis fled racist classical music schools for jazz. Now with their own, fulfilling musical art forms, why would blacks go knocking on Julliard's door? Also, "African-Americans think that classical music is for other people," writes Ross, paraphrasing a conductor's blog. "And the almost total absence of music education in public schools prevents a different story from being told."