Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What's that Marian?

After reading Katherine Kersten's July 4th column on the Daughters of the American Revolution, Spottie started channeling Marian Anderson, the legendary black American contralto, the first African American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. Well, not so much channeling as being reminded of the chapter that Marian Anderson and the DAR played in the history of race relations in the US.

This from the DAR's own website:
Aware of Anderson’s growing reputation, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt invited her to sing for guests at a White House dinner party in 1936. Eleanor Roosevelt subsequently praised Anderson’s performance in a newspaper column.

Three years later, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), refused to make its Washington venue, Constitution Hall, available for Anderson’s Easter concert due to a “white artists only” policy. As a result, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR, and on Easter Sunday, 1939, Anderson gave a historic and highly symbolic performance outdoors before 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial. Her performance was broadcast via radio nationwide. Anderson subsequently performed at Constitution Hall on several occasions, including the summer of 1942 when the DAR invited her to appear at the hall for the first concert in a series of benefit performances to aid the war relief. Anderson also began her farewell American tour at DAR Constitution Hall in 1964.
This quotation comes from an article on the DAR website about a Marian Anderson stamp issued in January of this year.

Spottie tips his hat, well Spottie doesn't wear a hat, but you know what he means, to both the DAR for reversing its policy after Ms. Anderson's historic performance at the feet of the Great Emancipator in 1939, and also to Marian Andersen for being willing to perform in Constitution Hall after the snub.

Spottie's beef with organizations such as the DAR is not that they want to remember history so much as they want to selectively remember an idealized history and revise it when necessary. The Sibley House pictured in Kersten's column provides but one example. Citizens of the state should be grateful that the DAR saved the house from its derelict condition and the danger of its being burned or further vandalized by the vagrants who took shelter in it. However, modifications to the house and to a smaller outbuilding for the cold storage of pelts, reveal a desire to portray a much more genteel life and setting for Henry Sibley and his family than really existed. The Minnesota Historical Society has removed most of this gauzy verneer.

So what's the harm? The harm comes when people try to mould history into a quasi or even fully religious mythology. The harm comes when an organization claims ownership of America's story, and by implication, ownership of the country itself. The harm comes when some folks believe they are better or more entitled Americans by virtue of their birth. It leads to a failure of honest history. Spottie says the honest history of the US is even more glorious than the idealized one, because it is the struggle of humans, not demi-gods.

The history of the DAR is one of exclusion, not inclusion. Kersten's article says that is changing; let's hope so.


Ben said...

yes, god forbid there is a conservative viewpoint in your hallowed communist 'everything the right does is bad everything the left does is good' Red Star. Aren't you the ones preaching tolerance, well tolerate her!

Anonymous said...

As if conservatives never criticize Doug Grow or Nick Coleman.

You will also notice that Spottie did not end his post wtih the story of Marian Anderson's snub by the DAR, nor with the DAR's interpretation of the Sibley House.

A pretty fair piece, all in all.

Ben said...

I never said we don't I just find it funny how all you retarded liberals are outraged that there is actually a conservative on the Red Star. Before her it was just a liberal jack-off fest. Feel free to delete my comment, it will just prove how intolerant you fucking retards are.

Anonymous said...

Would dream of deleting it.

Anonymous said...

Make that wouldn't dream of deleting it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ben's got himself a little attitude about liberals. I wonder what it's based on.

Anonymous said...

Based on his website, he's a young fella, so we should cut him some slack.