Love In Action

 


Love

In

Action


a column by

Elizabeth Hill


Elizabeth Hill is an artist, teacher, nurse, and mother of three grown daughters.

Her early work in pediatric nursing inspired her international award-winning sculptures, which led her to live at a spiritual and eco-conscious community called Findhorn in Scotland for four years.

There her art became community-based, which ultimately led her back into nursing.



She now finds the two careers have merged in her teaching as well as creating therapeutic products for people with minimal mobility.

www.findhorn.org

www.elizabethhillart.com


Read Love in Action 2016

HERE


And Love in action 2018

HERE


Love in Action 2019

HERE

 

Dear Grandpa Ross,


I wish I could’ve spent time with you on your dairy farm in Pleasant Valley. But, by the time I was born in ‘46, you were already seventy-six and retired to the little house in Westville. You passed away when I was nine, so I really only got to spend in-person time with you for a few weeks each year before your final day in the summer of ’55. 


How I loved it when we’d finally arrive in Westville each summer after an exhausting two-day journey from southern New Jersey to Nova Scotia—all six of us crunched together into our family’s pale green forward-backward Studebaker. Driving up the dirt driveway to your house, we were always greeted with lovely smells from Grandma’s fresh-baked bread, biscuits, and always an apple pie cooling on the kitchen windowsill. 


You’d greet my brothers and me each with a hug and a chin rub with your day-old scratchy stubbles. I loved it when you would sit down on the old rickety wood rocking chair on the side porch, and then you’d pick me up onto your lap, and say “How’s my girl?” I was always fascinated by your shiny bald head, and the stump where your thumb used to be before it got stuck and detached itself when you cranked up the old Model T Ford.


Do you remember that you’d let me rub your forehead, and even pull out remaining stragglers of hair that I encountered? Perhaps because I was outnumbered with three older brothers, you always made me feel special and very-much loved. After all, since you and Grandma had five daughters and no sons, you were used to having girls around you. 


Mom always said she liked working out in the fields with you, while her younger sisters helped Grandma with chores in the house. She also told me about a long-ago epidemic—I think it was Bovine Typhus—that ravaged most of the cows across Pleasant Valley. Every cow on every farm in the county was tested for the disease, and, sadly, all that were infected had to be put down.


How is it, Grandpa, that your cows were the only ones in the county that were healthy? Your farm was spared from ruin. As you and I both know, love and kindness are powerful medicines. Might it have been your innate loving kindness that helped to keep your cows well?  


Though your family’s herd and livelihood was spared during this bovine epidemic, I know that when you were a teenager, your family experienced an even worse horror during the Diphtheria epidemic in the early 1880’s. 


According to Mom, it happened when you were twelve or thirteen, and temporarily away from home helping your uncle at his near-by farm. During that time, your four younger siblings came down with Diphtheria, and within just one week, all four had passed away. 


To keep you safe, you were not allowed to get any closer to your farm than the fence around the fields. You were not able to visit. You were not able to say goodbye. You were not even allowed to attend the burials. 


Grandpa, I wonder how you felt during that unthinkable tragedy? I ask myself how does a family go on after such horrific losses? How long did you have to stay away from home before it was safe to go home? Did others in Pleasant Valley also suffer terrible losses? Did folks in the valley work together through that deadly epidemic, and help each other to rebuild their lives in its aftermath? 


I wonder how these events may have affected you on a heart and soul level? You were always very gentle with me, so I’m not surprised that you chose to work with cows.


During the four years I lived in the Highlands of Scotland, I noticed how sensitive and communal cows are. They also have close family ties, and on inclement days whole herds clump together in one corner of a field to keep each other warm. It was a surprise to me to learn that cows love music--even bagpipes! I read somewhere that if farmers show affection to their cows by giving them names, the cows will produce more and healthier milk. 


When you were milking cows daily, did you hum or sing to them? I can imagine that the rhythm of milking might induce a hum, a whistle, or a tune like the hymn “The Little Brown Church in the Vale” that Mom used to hum when vacuuming our house. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsfKskDyqIA


I recall that you kept one cow in the barn at the Westville house. You tried to teach me how to milk the cow, though it was quite a challenge with my then-little hands. You squirted milk straight from the cow’s teat for the barn cats to catch mid-air. Then, after telling me to open my mouth, you aimed and squirted the milk at me. I cringed, because it tasted slimy and way too directly-out-of-the-udder-warm for a kid who was used to the pasteurized and chilled variety.


Though I only knew you in person for eight summer vacations, I think it’s fair to say that you have been my comfort zone—my North Star—throughout my life. Years ago, while I slowly climbed out of a dark time when I thought I could not go on, you visited me often in dreamtime, and sent loving signs that you were close by and helping me to keep myself safe, step by step. 


It feels wonderful to write to you, Grandpa. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed spending some time focusing on cows. They remind me that huddling up together may keep us safe in life’s storms; and so when there is music on tap, we shall all be together, ready to enjoy it.


With Love and Gratitude,

Your Betty Jane



Link to Music for Happy Cows: https://www.youtube.com/watch/q6Or3k1BHp0

The painter is Jill Cantrill of http://www.jillcantrillstudio.com 

Photo credit: Kate Hill Cantrill



Two Vintage Ladies Lunching Underground —

Playing with Purpose During a Deadly Pandemic


“The best thing about being over 70 is being over 70.” 

~Helen Mirren


It was the 5th of January 2021—the day of Georgia’s runoff elections. Having not seen my dear friend Mary Ann over the Holidays, we decided to quell our nail-biting tension as the votes were counted for these vitally important elections by getting together for lunch.


As predicted, a cloudy gray sky loomed heavy over damp cold air. In spite of the weather, we were well prepared for our distanced and masked midday date. We met at one of our favorite restaurants outside a mega-mall to pick up our pre-ordered lunch of butternut squash soup, flatbread plates, with a side of scrumptious grilled scallops. 


We then drove into an open-sided somewhat-ghostly underground parking lot inside the mall complex. We parked next to each other, leaving an empty parking space between our cars. Each of us had brought a stool so we could sit a safe distance apart at the far ends of two purple folding tables I’d brought with me. 


Given naturally to overdoing whenever there’s a party to be had, I also brought colorful full table settings, which included bright red and green cloth napkins, stainless steel cutlery, reusable purple plastic plates, and hot pink and white goblets for a bubbly toast to celebrate the ending of a most challenging 2020, and to welcome in, hopefully, a better 2021.


On our table I placed a box of self questioning cards that we both love to play with at changing times, such as the beginning of a new year. At our feet we each had placed Christmas gifts we would be exchanging after lunch.


‘You’re never too old to play. You’re only too old for low-rise jeans.”

~Ellen Degeneres


We both were bundled up with winter layers, though gloves alone were not enough for our hands. Fortunately, we also had brought two sets of those magical 10hr. long-lasting hand-warmers, which quickly felt shnuggly (MaryAnn's word) inside our gloves. 


By the time we were ready to eat, a somewhat loud, large, and a bit battered black pickup truck came into the lot and parked just across from us. Out of it emerged two young guys, who I’d guess were in their late teens or early twenties. As they were about to put on their masks, they both looked over at us, smiled, and one of them said, “Looks like you two are having fun!”


Clearly, they were surprised—and maybe even slightly embarrassed—to have crashed our subterranean tea party in the middle of that cave-like concrete parking lot. They were respectful, and one of them even took the photo posted here after MaryAnn handed him her cell phone.

 

While he clicked the photo, it flashed through my mind that our temporary cafe scene may have sparked for them an image of their own Mothers or Grandmothers doing what we were doing. After all, we all are being impacted by this monstrous pandemic. What if one of these boys had lost someone—perhaps a Mother or Grandmother—from this invisible enemy?


Though it was only a momentary generational connection, it stayed with me as I later drove home. Just mulling over it made me feel empathy for those young men, and wondered how well they may or may not be negotiating adulthood. I asked myself how will their lives unfold and what choices might they make along the way that will impact others? 


Beautiful young people are accidents of nature,

but beautiful old people are works of art.”

~Eleanor Roosevelt


Our lunch was great, even though the food, which, by that time, had chilled a bit lower than room temperature. We toasted to 2020 with gratitude-—though mainly for it being over—then onto welcoming in 2021 which, hopefully, holds promises for better things ahead. 


2020 has most certainly changed us all, with unprecedented and mounting numbers of lives impacted or lost to this persistent and mutating pandemic. It has highlighted just how vital it is to savor every day, to stay in touch with those we love, to practice decency and kindness in even the most fleeting of connections, and to help and support each other. 


If this global pandemic weren’t enough to deal with, 2021 has arrived amidst massive political and ideological division, with last week’s assault on our very Democracy, perpetrated by domestic terrorists. All of that and more will now be dumped at the door of the new Presidential Administration as it settles into an all new era.


My hope and prayer for the days ahead is that each of us who are willing, to be mindful, and appreciate the everyday blessings in our lives so that we can help bring more kindness, justice, civility, and love into our hearts, our homes, our communities, our states, our country, and our world.


“I’m grateful for every age I’m blessed to become.” 

~Oprah Winfrey


A light-hearted link for Ladies of a Certain Fine Vintage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAYv7CvqhbQ


2020 Winter Solstice — A Celestial Dawning


“As above, so below; as within, so without; 

as the universe, so the soul…”

~Hermes Trismegistus



Astronomers and Astrologers alike agree! An unprecedented celestial event is coming on December 21st, our Winter Solstice. It will be, in fact, the beginning of a brand New Era.


Astronomy is the study of everything outside of the earth's atmosphere—planets, stars, asteroids, galaxies—as well as the properties and relationships of those celestial bodies. By contrast, Astrology is the study of how planetary positions, motions, and properties affect people and events on Earth. For several millennia, the need to improve astrological predictions was one of the main components for astronomical theories and observations.


Though some today associate the word ‘zodiac’ only with Astrology, it is also important in Astronomy, as it defines the annual path of the sun across our sky.


This year’s Winter Solstice will find Jupiter and Saturn—energetic polar opposites of the Cosmos—positioning themselves at zero degrees in the sign of Aquarius, close enough to appear from earth as one single very bright star. These two planets have not been this close together for 800 years!


Expansive, progressive, out-of-the-box Jupiter and stable, restrictive, disciplined Saturn are certainly strange bedfellows. That said, when they combine their contradictory powers, they can produce perfect checks and balances. Jupiter is the gas, while Saturn is the breaks that will allow the pair to stay “grounded” while continuing to push forward into the future.


I think it’s safe to say, 2020 has been an extraordinary year of loss, isolation, division, violence, and instability. Through it all, I’ve heard friends and family saying they’ve been feeling something bigger and better approaching as the year nears its end.


Perhaps because I’m a retired nurse, I’d describe 2020 as twelve months of non-stop “global labor pains.” The birth process is now in its last, most precarious, and exasperating transitional stage, making way for this much anticipated cosmic birth, which will be announced by this year’s bright star in the sky on our Winter Solstice. 


“And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell, and I understood more than I saw; 

for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of things in the spirit,

 and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.” 

~Black Elk


Like any newborn, this soon-to-be-born New Era will need tender postpartum care. We, who choose to nurture this miraculous cosmic fledgling will glady gown and glove-up for the enormous love-filled midwifery tasks ahead.


Way back in 1969, a singing group of five fellow Baby Boomers called The Fifth Dimension gave this nearly-here New Era a name in a song that described what the future new world might look like. The name they gave in honor of this upcoming Dec. 21,2020 cosmic event is, of course, “Aquarius.”


Whether or not you will be in a position to see this Celestial Star, know that we are all a part of it.


"May the stars carry your sadness away, May the flowers fill your heart with beauty, 

May hope forever wipe away your tears, And, above all, may silence make you strong."

~Chief Dan George,Tsleil-Waututh Nation



Link to the Fifth Dimension’s song called “The Age of Aquarius”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILSr9BbhoJQ&list=RDILSr9BbhoJQ&index=1


Re-Booting America 


“I'm no longer accepting the things I cannot change...

I'm changing the things I cannot accept.” 

~Angela Davis



As Americans approach the tail end of 2020, we find ourselves, and our country—like it or not—transforming. This past year has not only laid bare the enormously divisive black hole of racial, gender, political, and economic inequalities among our citizenry. It has also highlighted unspeakable injustices perpetrated by the privileged upon our most vulnerable, including those seeking safety and a better life at our country’s borders.


“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

~Fannie Lou Hamer


All of this and more is happening during a deadly and rampantly-out-of-control pandemic, which has already infected more than ten million people; so far taking the lives of nearly a quarter of a million people. Since the current administration has chosen to ignore this now-again-escalating health crisis, we the people need to be extra vigilant by continuing to wear face masks, to keep social distancing, and staying away from indoor crowds. 


“You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.” 

~Navajo


Whether we are aware of it or not, I’m quite sure the chaos we’ve lived in these past few years has altered us—not just in our collective outer world—but also in our own inner worlds. Speaking for myself, this upside-down-inside-out atmosphere has helped me to be more conscious of being kinder, and gentler with myself, my aging body and mind. Likewise, these heightened attributes have helped me to be kinder and gentler to others. A daily practice for me has been to quiet my inner and outer environment through meditation, inviting gratitude which expands the heart’s capacity to send out love to those that are suffering or in need. I’ve also noticed that conversations with friends and family have become more mindful and caring. 


Thankfully, though living online is not my favorite way to talk to friends and family, I’m learning to appreciate COVID-free Zooming with friends and family. 


I feel that women—both individually and collectively—are emerging out of the darkness of suppression into the light of True Feminine Power. How exciting it is for me and countless others to welcome a woman—especially one of color and diverse heritage—to serve as our first female Vice President. 


“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly,

without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

~Maya Angelou


That said, I am looking forward to 2021 and beyond. At the risk of sounding naive, I do feel the next few years will begin to usher in positive change that has the potential to undo despair, injustice, and bit by bit, reduce impulses that cause violence. It is a proven fact that Fear is a dense and heavy energy, while Love is expansive, its frequencies light! And on that note, here is bit of Hope that will soon be moving into Sixteen-Hundred Pennsylvania Avenue to begin the reboot of America…


A good chief gives, he does not take. 

~Mohawk


Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare to The Common Man”- click link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKgk6G0lekQ



Walking Home


“Friends are nations in themselves.”

~Emily Dickinson


How are each of you holding up after months of isolation, social distancing, and staying close to home? How many have been cautiously widening your circles of family, friends, and neighbors? Are you diligently wearing a face mask—or diligently not—when you’re out in public?


I feel it is my duty to wear a mask—not just because I’m a silver-haired retired pediatric nurse—but also because I want to help quell the spread of this deadly pandemic which has already altered our way of life forevermore. 


Though family and friends have always been the center of my life, the present dangers of COVID—coupled with widespread chaos, misinformation, violence, discrimination, fear, and razor-sharp political and cultural division—now threaten ourselves, our loved ones, our Democracy, and potentially, our planet.


If ever there has been a need for kindness, compassion, and support toward others, it is now.


“When one reaches out to help another he touches the face of God.”

~Walt Whitman


I’m reminded of the story my mother told to me about the summer of 1947. My three older brothers—Ross, David, and Don were seven, five and a half, and nineteen months respectively. I was six months old. 


All four of us became sick, though Ross was the sickest. Polio was then every parent’s nightmare, as there was no cure. Unlike today, the doctor came to our house. When he examined Ross, he told Mom that Ross’s ailment was either meningitis or polio, and that he hoped it was meningitis, since it could be treated with antibiotics. 


Mom and Dad held Ross tight in the fetal position on the living room couch while the doctor performed a lumbar puncture. Now eighty years old, Ross still remembers that.


It was, in fact, polio. Ross was sent to the hospital, where he stayed throughout the summer, getting daily hot water whirlpool baths and exercises for his polio-constricted muscles. He was fortunate that he didn’t require an iron lung, though many other children there did.


The rest of our family remained at home in quarantine for the summer--our parents not able to visit their son. By the Grace of the angels, a kind neighbor visited Ross every week, and would then report on his progress to Mom and Dad. 


Several of our neighbors made daily meals that they would leave on the front porch, as neither Mom nor Dad were allowed to shop for food.


For most of that time, our parents nursed us kids day and night, cooped up together, not knowing what the outcome would bring. Thankfully, Ross was blessed with a full recovery, and returned home in time for school in September.


Were it not for the kindness, compassion, and actions of friends and neighbors, our family’s “summer of ‘47” story may have had a very different ending.


Current times have forced each of us to choose what kind of world we want to live in. Personally, my dream is one of co-creating a kinder, more sustainable planet full of equitable, diversified, and caring communities that work together for the Greater Good.


“We are all just here to walk each other home.”

~Ram Dass


A tribute to all whose lives have been impacted or lost through violence, bigotry, or COVID19: We Are the World/Heal the World - Voices of Hope Children's Choir 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tRLowGHh4c



The RBG Effect



"Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation."

~RBG


She was the first female Jewish member of the US Supreme Court. According to Jewish tradition, her passing on the eve of Rosh Hashanah indicates that she was a Tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s entire Peaceful Warrior life was a testament to exactly that. 


Yes, it is true that our world has lost that Giant Beam of Light that radiated from her tiny earth-body, however, her RBG effect will and must live on.


RBG was a force to be reckoned with, fighting always for justice and equality for all, especially women. She was known for her remarkable ability to hold her ground, and often even changed minds of others. 


“Every now and then it helps to be a little deaf...That advice has stood me in good stead- 

not simply in dealing with my marriage, but in dealing with my colleagues.”

~RBG


Among her numerous accomplishments, even before she was appointed to The Supreme Court, Ginsberg’s work paved the way for the Equal Credit Opportunity Act—which was passed in 1974—allowing women to apply for bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages without a male co-signer.


For me and many other Baby Boomer women, the 70’s were the years we got married and started having babies. When I think back on that era, I’m only now fully realizing just how limited women’s rights were then. 


"Women belong in all places where decisions are being made...” 

~RBG 

Her departure has not abandoned us. Rather, the legacy she gifts each of us with is a call for action to continue her fight. We must honor her life by keeping hope, peaceful resistance, and dissension alive. Most of all, we must not feel powerless. Through her innate humanity, tenacity, persistence, creativity, femininity, and symbolic collars and jabots, all blended with her wonderfully rye sense of humor, RBG has shown us ways to peacefully continue the fight for justice and equality. 


Ginsberg had a playful nature, especially when it came to her symbolic collars and jabots. She and Sandra Day O’Connor noticed that the Judges’ gown were made for men’s shirt collars and ties to be seen, so they decided to feminize their own gowns. 


Ginsberg accumulated many unique collars and jabots. Each one was carefully chosen, depending on what the Court was discussing and deciding upon. These adornments not only harkened back to the Court’s foundations, but also distinguished the wearer as female, and celebrated the traditional women’s arts of knitting, crochet, and lace.


“If I had any talent in the world... I would be a great Diva.”

~RBG


Not only did she enjoy a close long-time friendship with conservative Judge Antonin Scalia, she could also laugh at her self. In 2010 and then again in 2015, after going out to dinner with her Supreme Court colleagues, she was filmed sleeping during the State of The Union speeches. When asked about how that happened, she replied with a cheeky smile:


“I wasn’t 100 percent sober.”

~RBG


The work ahead is likely to be messy and chaotic. Personally, I’m thinking I need my own dissenting collar to remind me of what can be accomplished when Heart and Head work together. 


The photos above are of collars created by the artist Stephanie Syjuco, who welcomes all to share: https://g.co/kgs/vBq79x.


And here’s another link with step by step directions to create your own with fabric and flair.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS3CjKx2t1s



"I'm sometimes asked 'When will there be enough (women on the Supreme Court)?' and my answer is: 'When there are nine.'

~RBG


Entering a Brand New Portal



“The pandemic is a portal.”

~Arundhati Roy


We—and by that I mean Humanity—have no way to go but forward. It seems to me our planet and its inhabitants are going through a collective and epic transition. Do you feel as if you have been living in a Neverending Twilight Zone? Have you felt as if you’ve been walking in cement shoes—dodging chaos, fear, anger, endless lies, injustice, illness, death, and violence that’s been circulating around us all?


“There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless'. 

There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”

~Arundhati Roy


The last two evenings, I’ve been watching the first virtual political convention leading up to our November presidential election. Nearly every speaker—from both political parties—spoke of the necessity for unity, integrity, honesty, affordable healthcare, social and racial justice; all envisioning a kinder, more civil and sustainable America. Surprisingly, I found myself feeling proud to be an American, once again. 


This morning, I awoke a bit lighter, more optimistic. Perhaps it was the energy of the current New Moon I felt, though I really can’t say. Whatever it was, in my mind’s eye, a new door stood open before me. 


With Gratitude and Humility in my heart, I stepped though.


“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty in its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” 

~Arundhati Roy


The Coronavirus Pandemic is a portal like no other has been. It beckons each of us, not to hold on so tightly to our past out of fear, but to open to each tomorrow with Love as your guide. 


Please gift yourselves by clicking on the link below:


“Another world is not only possible, she's on her way. 

Maybe many of us won't be here to greet her, 

but on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

~Arundhati Roy


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hgQFaeaeo0


Photo Credit: Kate Hill Cantrill





Transforming Us

A tribute to John Lewis


~Baby Chick~


Peck, peck, peck

On the warm brown egg.

Out comes a neck

Out comes a leg.


How does a chick

Whose not been about,

Discover the trick

Of how to get out?


~Aileen Fisher


A friend told me that farmers know not to help baby chicks in their hatching process. It seems that outside intervening can be dangerous for the chick. Though some chicks struggle for several days to emerge from their egg shell, if a person tries to help by taking off pieces of the shell, the chick will often die. Apparently, it is essential that each chick does the hard work of hatching by itself.


Over the last few months, all humans have been stopped in our tracks and confined—not unlike the incubating chicks inside their eggs—to our homes by a deadly pandemic. Many people have not only lost friends and love-ones to COVID19, and were not even able to say goodbye in person, or to honor them with funerals. Even now, as some states are gradually opening up, many continue to experience anxiety at the very least while others suffer from full-blown PTSD.


America itself is in chaos—politically, financially, psychologically, and spiritually—while unbridled and enabled-from-the-top racism and violence rear their ugly heads for all to see. 


Every day when I walk my dog around this fairly diverse middle class suburban neighborhood, I am often the only person who is wearing a mask. As a recently retired nurse, it infuriates me that so many others don’t see the need to help quell the spread of this ever-mutating virus.


All that said, I am aware of growing positive change forming out of necessity from grass-roots initiatives to combat climate change, social injustice, our healthcare crisis, and homelessness.


I have also seen that many people have turned their attention inward—individually and collectively—each struggling to emerge from a process of hatching out of old ways of thinking, living, and being. 


With hope in our hearts, and creativity in our hands, together we can transform ourselves and manifest a better, more sustainable, and equitable New World. 


We are one people; we are only family.

 And when we finally accept these truths, 

then we will be able to fulfill Dr. King's dream to build a beloved community, a nation, and a world at peace with itself. 

~John Lewis


An American Life Full of Grace


“Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman.” 

~Marian Anderson


Marian Anderson, born in Philadelphia Pa., was an African-American contralto opera singer who performed world-wide. The Italian conductor, Arturo Toscanini, celebrated her voice as, “One that comes around once in a hundred years.”


Anderson performed in countless Concert Halls across America. Though beloved by her audiences, she was subjected to racial restrictions regarding accommodations, dining rooms, travel, restrooms, and backstage dressing rooms. 


“Prejudice is like a hair across your cheek.

You can’t see it, you can’t find it with your fingers,

but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating.”

~Marian Anderson


By 1939, Anderson’s popularity had outgrown most of Washington DC’s concert halls. However, Constitutional Hall, built in 1929 by The Daughters of the American Revolution, had a capacity of 4,000 spectators. Anderson’s agent—Sol Hurok from Howard University—approached the management of Constitutional Hall, hoping to book the venue for an Easter Sunday concert for their annual fundraiser.  Hurok was told the venue was already booked. Hurok then offered several more dates for a concert, but was given the same response. Shortly after that, Hurok discovered those dates had all been available for white performers. Apparently, the DAR had accepted their largest funding for the Hall’s construction under the condition that only whites would be allowed to perform on that stage.


Marian Anderson had twice performed at The White House, and when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt—a member of the DAR—found out about the rejection, she was outraged! To the DAR she wrote, “I am in complete disagreement with the attitude taken in refusing Constitution Hall to a great artist. You have set an example which seems to me unfortunate, and I feel obliged to send in to you my resignation. You had an opportunity to lead in an enlightened way and it seems to me that your organization has failed.”


Though the DAR president general tried to dissuade her, Mrs. Roosevelt arranged an outdoor Easter Sunday 1939 concert at The Lincoln Memorial, overseen by the Department of The Interior.


On Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, Harold Ickes—the Secretary of the Interior—introduced Marian Anderson saying, “In this great auditorium under the sky, all of us are free. . . Genius knows no color line.” 


With Lincoln’s image above her, a multitude of microphones broadcasted to millions across the country. In front of her, 75,000 Americans of all races, genders, and ages stood, dressed in their Easter finary. It was, by far, the largest audience she had ever seen and she was terrified.


In reading about the event, I was intrigued by her choices and placement of the first song as well as the last one. She opened with “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” 

Link to 1939 Lincoln Memorial Concert: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAONYTMf2pk


The last song in her concert is one that goes straight through my heart, as I’m sure it did for the audience that day, as she sang “Nobody Knows The Troubles I’ve Seen.”  

Link to a rendition of it: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxFvI1roQIw


Among the audience that Easter Sunday was ten year old Martin Luther King Jr. Five years later, in an oratory contest, he referred to Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial performance, saying, “She sang as never before, with tears in her eyes. When the words of “America” and “Nobody Knows the Troubles I Seen” rang out over that great gathering, there was a hush on the sea of uplifted faces, black and white, and a new baptism of liberty, equality, and fraternity.”


Newspapers across the country acknowledged the significance of the moment with front page stories. One newsreel labeled it, “Nation’s Capital Gets Lesson in Tolerance.”


“None of us is responsible for the complexion of his skin. 

This fact of nature offers no clue to the character or quality of the person underneath.” 

~Marian Anderson


On the DAR’s website, the organization made a formal apology to Marian Anderson for their slight in 1939, and went on to say “...today we join all Americans in grateful recognition that her historic performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was a pivotal point in the struggle for racial equality. The beauty of her voice, amplified by her courage and grace, brought attention to the eloquence of many voices urging our nation to overcome prejudice and intolerance. It sparked change not just in the DAR but in all of America.”


In 1943, Anderson was finally invited to perform at the DAR’s Constitution Hall for an American Red Cross war relief fundraiser. That concert brought the world an extra blessing, in that Anderson, at first, had refused to perform unless the management agreed to suspend their segregated seating policy. 


They complied to her request, and then, she sang...