Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall

Marian Anderson sings in Constitution Hall in January 1943 before an integrated audience.

Marian Anderson sings in Constitution Hall in January 1943 before an integrated audience.
Photograph by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images, Copyright Getty Images.

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) dedicated Constitution Hall in 1929 with an enormous auditorium seating 3,844 persons. It quickly became the premier concert venue in Washington, D.C., but lost some of its luster in 1939 when the DAR would not allow Marian Anderson, the celebrated contralto, to perform because she was black. Anderson performed instead on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before some 75,000 people on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939. In January 1943, the DAR finally permitted Anderson to sing in Constitution Hall before an integrated audience. The Chicago Defender newspaper called this “one of the greatest demonstrations of racial harmony ever witnessed here. As was to be expected, Miss Anderson sensed this democratic spirit on the part of the audience, and sang with greater fervor than ever.”

one of the greatest demonstrations of racial harmony ever witnessed here

The Chicago Defender Newspaper