Marian Anderson Historical Society opens its doors for MLK Day of Service

The Marian Anderson Historical Society opened the doors to famed contralto Marian Anderson’s home yesterday. The open house and senior citizen luncheon honored the memories of Dr. Martin Luther King and Anderson while also giving special recognition to seniors. 

Anderson, one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century, grew up attending and singing at the nearby Union Baptist Church at Fitzwater and Martin streets. She purchased the home at 762 S. Martin Street for $4,000 in 1924 after a European tour, and today it is a time capsule of sorts that preserves Anderson’s legacy. 

As a famous African American female singer in the twentieth century, Anderson became an important figure in the struggle for black artists in the face of racial oppression. Monday’s event celebrated both Anderson’s voice and her legacy. 

Volunteers served senior citizen guests a tribute lunch while members of the historical society told stories of Anderson’s life. Lady Blancheburton Lyles, the first African American female pianist to play at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic, and Jillian Patricia Pirtle, one of just 16 Marian Anderson scholars, performed for a captivated audience. 

“There’s nothing better than being able to take the opportunity to give back on MLK Day in the spirit of Marian Anderson,” Pirtle said. 

She said the idea was to give back to and to treat the seniors citizens who were alive in Anderson’s era. And there is no better place to do so, she said, than Anderson’s own home. 

“You can feel her spirit here,” she said. 

The Marian Anderson Historical Society operates The Marian Anderson Residence Museum and works ceaselessly to promote the late classical singer. Through its Anderson scholars program, the society supports young classical and opera singers from around the world. Museum tours are available 10am – 4pm, Monday through Saturday. 

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