National Affairs: Anderson Affair

  • Share
  • Read Later

On Washington's sunny Easter afternoon, at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, Negro Contralto Marian Anderson sang America, Ave Maria, My Soul Is Anchored in the Lord for a crowd of 75,000, including Harold LeClair Ickes, Henry Morgenthau, many another Capital bigwig. Singer Anderson had waived her $1,750 fee, nobody paid admission, her program was considerably below her artistic par. This was all because, by last week, the Anderson Affair had become more a matter of politics than of Art or even of Race. After the D. A. R. kept Miss Anderson out of Constitution Hall and Eleanor Roosevelt quit the Daughters in protest (TIME, March 6, et seq.), a Marian Anderson Citizens' Committee went to work to rebuke Negrophobes. In so doing, it put on the spot many a politico to whom the U. S. Negro vote will be important in 1940.

Democrat John Nance Garner, Republican Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. ignored or declined invitations to sponsor her appearance. So did Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, presumably because he thinks Justices should shun partisan controversy. But Chief Justice & Mrs. Charles Evans Hughes accepted with pleasure, as did Associate Justice Hugo ("Klan") Black. For all who did not, New Dealer Ickes as Secretary of the Interior made things doubly uncomfortable by proffering the Emancipator for a backdrop.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable of all was able, amiable Marian Anderson. Neither seeking nor needing the publicity, she perforce did the bidding of Manager Sol Hurok. In her great singing, there was no politics.

This week Eleanor Roosevelt announced that when King George & Queen Elizabeth visit the U. S. in June, Marian Anderson "probably" will sing for them at the White House.