The life of singer Marian Anderson, who became a Civil Rights icon, is explored in Voice of Freedom, a new documentary from American Experience that premieres February 15 at 9 PM ET on PBS. Watch the trailer above.
Narrated by Hamilton Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, the film interweaves Anderson’s life story with this landmark moment in history, exploring questions about talent, race, fame, democracy, and the American soul.
Anderson's fame wasn’t enough to insulate her from the trauma of racism and segregation. On Easter Sunday 1939, she stepped up to a microphone in front of the Lincoln Memorial—inscribed on the walls of the monument behind her were the words “all men are created equal.” Barred from performing in Constitution Hall because of her race, Anderson would sing for the country in the open air.
“Marian Anderson is willing to show up, and she must show up, to indicate that she is not going to accept the terms of social inequality, of artistic inequality,” said scholar Kira Thurman. “I think that says a lot about who she was—her insistence on demonstrating her dignity in the midst of such harsh racial oppression and violence.”
(Updated February 15, 2021)