Monday, April 13, 2009
Mirian Anderson, a talented African American singer, was denied permission to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in 1939. Instead she sang for 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial. This was a defining moment in the history of protest against inequality in America. To commemorate that historic event , Denyce Graves performed the same program at the Lincoln Memorial and even wore one of Anderson's dresses. The defining moment in the concert for me was when the Chicago Children's Choir and the entire audience sang "We who believe in freedom can not rest". The whole audience was swaying and clapping its hands in unison. One feels that sense of unity and human potential so seldom. It was exhilarating. After the performance General Colin Powell helped several hundred people from 56 different countries gain their US Citizenship. The new citizens got a standing ovation from the audience. The heartwarming ceremony made me realize the civic responsibility we all have to give something back to the community . Colin's voice broke as he read from Lincoln's second inaugural speech: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in."