All tagged Nationalism

Whatever your political persuasion in the 2008 election, it’s beyond dispute that the inauguration of an American president of African descent is historic. Given that Obama has lived so long in, and represented, the Land of Lincoln, it was inevitable that he’d tap into the Lincoln mythology with gestures such as his train trip into DC and his taking of the oath of office using the same bible that Lincoln used in 1861. A piece of symbolism missed by the TV commentators, not to mention me at the time, was the backstory of Aretha Franklin’s performance of “My Country Tis of Thee.” As a lover of true contralto voices and a history buff, I’m a little sheepish that it took a belated visit to The Rest is Noise to remind me that Marian Anderson sang the same song on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Anderson, an internationally successful opera singer, had been denied permission to perform to an integrated audience in venues owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution and a local white public school.