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Marian Anderson

Typed Letter Signed - 1954

Large bold signature on a typed letter signed by Marian Anderson, a "Goodwill Ambassadress" for the United Nations. Dated February 19, 1954 on letterhead of the American Association for the United Nations: Committee to Study the Organization of Peace.

Marian Anderson (1897-1993) was an African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Anderson also became an important figure in the struggle for black artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. She continued to break barriers for black artists in the United States, becoming the first black person, American or otherwise, to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 7, 1955.

Photo by Yousuf Karsh

Anderson worked for several years as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and as a "goodwill ambassadress" for the United States Department of State, giving concerts all over the world. She participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, singing at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Anderson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, the National Medal of Arts in 1986, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.