On 4/9/39, After being denied permission to perform at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution, contralto Marian Anderson performed an unprecedented open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to a huge live audience and to millions more over the radio. The actor and playwright Ossie Davis, then a student at Howard University, was in the crowd and reported on the experience:
"It was a cold and dreary day, and Marian Anderson was on the front steps in her mink coat. Standing there were seventy-five thousand people, and the student body [of Howard University] was included, listening to her. All of a sudden, I had a transformation that was almost of a religious nature. Ah, something in her singing, something in her voice, something in her demeanor entered me and opened me up and made me a free man."
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