Where African American History Is American History
Feb. 15, 2022

Marian Anderson: The American Contralto Part 2

Marian Anderson: The American Contralto Part 2

How does one become a musical legend? In the conclusion of Marian Anderson: The American Contralto, we chronicle Marian's journey through Europe as she is called "the voice of the century." After a successful trip to Europe and being met with...

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How does one become a musical legend?

In the conclusion of Marian Anderson: The American Contralto, we chronicle Marian's journey through Europe as she is called "the voice of the century." After a successful trip to Europe and being met with resistance to perform at Consitution Hall, it led to a concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Later we talk to Charlie Edmunds about her experience teaching music in East Tennessee and a new program she is creating to expose more students to learn how to play black music.

In this episode, you will hear:

  • What Marian needed in Europe and how Roland Hayes helped
  • The type of money Marian was making at her peak.
  • The origin of the Nuremberg Race Laws and how they affected Marian
  • Why Marian was not able to perform at Constitution Hall
  • A significant song she performed at the Lincoln Memorial 

Notable figures mentioned in this episode:

Roland Hayes
Katherine Mary Dunham
Walter White


Dominic Lawson (00:01):

Last time on the Black Is America podcast, we see Marian Anderson rise from humble beginnings in South Philly to new heights in the operatic world.

Charlie Edmonds (00:10):
From what I understand about her church upbringing is that, that was her first singing exposure, that

was her first singing experience.

Dominic Lawson (00:18):
But after a not so ideal concert outing in New York, Marian seeks redemption in Europe. Now for the

conclusion of Marian Anderson, American contralto, here on the Black Is America podcast.

Dominic Lawson (00:37):

We come from innovators, heroes, and royalty. We are our ancestor's greatest hope. We face many challenges, but we mold that adversity into our greatest strength. We are the glue that holds a nation together and allows it to flourish. Welcome to Black Is America, the podcast that highlights little known African American figures and stories that make our history come to life. I'm your host, Dominic Lawson. Episode three, Marian Anderson, the American contralto, part two.

Dominic Lawson (01:24):

Last time, Marian had a rough performance at New York's town hall and she was met with harsh criticism. Marian was always met with rave reviews and any small hiccups were ultimately forgiven, but Marian is faced with the fact that if she's going to get to the next step in her career, then she has to, by any means, get more training. Giuseppe was okay, but she needed more. Europe is where she knew she needed to go. Her first stop was in Paris where she connected with Roland Hayes, the award-winning African American tenor and composer living abroad at the time. This Georgia native had superb linguistic skills as he performed in French, Italian and German.

Dominic Lawson (02:22):

Hayes would make upwards of $100,000 a year as an artist. A younger Marian had met Roland earlier at Union Baptist, so she is definitely in good company regarding taking her career to the next level. Back in the states, Marian would always be limited regarding the training she could receive and the venues she could play. While Europe was not exactly free of racism, it was clear that she had more opportunities to flourish than back home. So Roland would set her up real nice with teachers, dates at performance halls and in return, Marian starts to flourish. She is getting better at her craft. She's becoming extremely proficient in different languages, especially German, and it pays off.

Dominic Lawson (03:13):

Soon, Marian would be torn all over Europe. We're talking about a different city at every night on the road for months at a time type of touring. Marian is singing in front of packed crowds, eventually even in Paris, which is arguably the center of everything in arts and culture in the world. Calm down, New Yorkers. I said, arguably, okay? Anyways, Marian is also treated like a rock star. She has her name and picture in newspapers, posters, marquis, the whole nine. I thought this was pretty amazing, and men were throwing themselves at her. That part made sense. Marian was rich, famous. She was also tall, beautiful, and single. Yeah, Marian had quite a good thing going on in Europe. Charlie thought so too, butshe also provides a unique perspective.

Charlie Edmonds (04:09):

When I saw that she had sang for European royalty in hundreds of concerts, it wasn't just a one time thing. This was big. This was all the time. She seemed, at first, more widely accepted there than in the United States. That's baffling to me because I feel like Europe is just as racist, if not the start of everything, but she was definitely widely accepted there. I wondered if that was purely for entertainment purposes, especially for royalty, and if they truly appreciated her as a black woman or if they only appreciated her voice. I always wondered, but her voice is undeniable. So either way, you're going to appreciate the fullness of her because she was powerful.

Dominic Lawson (05:00):

While touring in Europe, Marian hoped to have been managed by Sol Hurok. Hurok was a significant figure in the world of classical art. He would go on to manage many other in the classical arts arena, including African American dancer, Katherine Mary Dunham, often regarded as the matriarch and queen mother of black dance. During the intermission of one of her shows, Marian gets a surprise guest to come backstage. Once again, thanks to the Penn libraries and their YouTube channel, here's Marian Anderson.

Marian Anderson (05:34):

We went to this person who had their concert agency and he arranged the concert for us in Paris. Mr. Horowitz, who had been in Europe before with Wilfred Saks, and who was at that time in Paris, arranged a concert. Mr... came with us. He and his wife came down and the three of us stayed in Paris for several days and had this concert at Salle Gaveau. I am not sure whether it was this first concert or whether it was another one, but in any case, at one of these con- Mr. Hurok came and came back in the intermission. Now it will be interesting to know that before I had gone away the second time, I had tried desperately to beat Mr. Hurok. It had been a matter of utter impossibility.

Marian Anderson (06:36):

I can't tell you that I went to his office and sat outside and waited to see him come in. I didn't do that, but means of trying to meet him failed. Just absolutely could not, and here all at once was Mr. Hurok backstage with Mr. Horowitz. I couldn't believe my eyes. When he said he would like to see me the next day at Mr. Horowitz's office, I don't know exactly how I got through with the rest of the program, but it finally, like all things, came to an end. Costy, my accompanist, and I went to the office of Mr. Horowitz to meet Mr. Hurok.

Dominic Lawson (07:16):

Auntie Marian, at this time, is making a lot of money. Remember when I said Roland Hayes was making $100,000 a year? Auntie was out here making $250,000 a year, which is the equivalent of $5 million today. Let's put that in perspective for a minute. According to an article on businessinsider.com, the average income around this time is about $1,700. A new home is about $3,900 and a new car is about $860. So to say Marian was out here getting these coins was an understatement, but in 1935, there would be a bit of complication that would affect her earnings. Remember, this is 1935 in Europe. So around this time, while Marian's career is flourishing, the Nazi party is growing in influence across the continent. Pretty soon, they would enact the Nuremberg race laws that pretty much define second-classcitizenship. Now, if the Nuremberg race laws sound like Jim Crow 2.0, that's because in a way it is.

Dominic Lawson (08:32):

The reason for that, you ask? The Nazis studied the Jim Crow doctrine to craft their laws. You heard me correctly. The Nazis, who we have come to vilify in our history books, and rightfully so, studied Jim Crow laws in America to craft their own. That was because the Germans felt that was the best working model to craft their laws. This would affect Marian as she would now be banned to perform in Germany and Austria. She was slated to perform at the Salzburg music festival in Austria, which is a huge musical event held every year, even to this day. But her friends would arrange for her to sing at a ballroom in a hotel in Salzburg, thereby defying the law.

Dominic Lawson (09:23):

At that performance, there would be some prestigious guests in the audience. And one of them would be Arturo Toscanini, one of the most acclaimed musical influencers in the world at the time. He is sitting in the front row, and just like most people who would hear Marian sing, he was also moved by her talent and her presence. I wanted to get a technical sense of why Marian was so talented. What was it about her voice that makes her stand out? Lucky for me, I have such a person to explain. Here again, it's Charlie Edmonds, associate instructor at Indiana University.

Charlie Edmonds (10:03):

I think her voice is beautiful. It's got this vibrato that is so steady and so, I don't know, so powerful. That was, of course, the first operatic voice that I had ever heard. So when I sang, I tried to do that. I couldn't do it. Then I realized how difficult that is. Yeah. She was talented, powerful. Her range is amazing as well to me as a contralto. I'm an instrumentalist, so my context is not great with this, but I thought that you had to stay in a certain range and that you couldn't go super high or super low. But when I listen to her work, her range is incredible. She could do all sorts of things. Her range is very extensive.

Dominic Lawson (10:47):

Auntie Marian was definitely incredible, so much so that Arturo Toscanini would meet with her afterward and say to her, "What I heard today, one is privileged to hear once in a hundred years." So of course, in Sol Hurok's hands, being great at branding and all, what he heard was Marian was deemed the voice of the century. He would run with this telling papers and anybody who would hear him. So that is why now today we call Marian Anderson the voice of the century.

Dominic Lawson (11:32):

Marian is at the height of her career. The trip to Europe has more than paid off. She has fortune, fame, but more importantly, I think to her, she has the respect of the classical world. It doesn't get any better than a ringing endorsement from the Arturo Toscanini. But now it's time to come back home. It's time to go back to the United States, where there were countless nos and being denied the proper training and the opportunity to sing in some of America's prestigious concert halls. You see it all the time. The idea comes from the Bible of the prophet in your own land. You basically have to go somewhere else, get credibility and then return to get the respect and notoriety that you were looking for at home. So clearly, Marian Anderson, this now international operatic star, is about to come home to everyone begging her to sing in their concert halls and appear at different events. Surely she will come home to be treated as the classical sensation that she is, right? I mean, right? Well, mostly. You'll see what I meanpretty soon.

Dominic Lawson (12:49):

So 1935, she heads back to America for a set of performances. Marian even starts at New York's town hall, the place years before where she didn't do so well. She is received very well. They see quickly that she is not the same Marian from years ago, more polished than ever before, while now hearing the richness in her voice. She even goes home to Philadelphia for a proper coming home performance, the place where her fantastic career started. Marian has never been very vocal when it comes to civil rights. However, she has always understood the platform she had and would use that platform from time to time to move the cause forward. For instance, she was sing at HBCUs to promote the arts at the schools and raise money for them.

Dominic Lawson (13:43):

In 1939, she agreed to do a benefit for Howard University, the HBCU located in Washington, DC. Howard has produced countless notable alumni who have been a powerhouse in government, with Thurgood Marshall and Madam vice president Kamala Harris, to the arts with Phylicia Rashad, Taraji P Henson, and even the late Chadwick Boseman. So Marian Anderson has agreed to perform a concert on Easter Sunday on April 9th, 1939. Now, if this was pre-1930, having it on campus would not have been a problem at all. But remember, Marian is now an international superstar so they would have to find a venue that would hold the large amounts of people she would command. In DC, there were not many venues that could host that many people, but there was one, Constitution Hall. The 3,700 seat venue is similar to the venue she came accustomed to in Europe, but there's a slight problem.

Dominic Lawson (14:49):

So Constitution Hall is run by the Daughters of the American Revolution, otherwise known as the DAR. The organization was formed when there was a renewed sense of patriotism, but was tired of feeling excluded from men organizations. They're the descendants of the soldiers who fought in the American revolutionary war against the British where oppression and tyranny were imposed by the crown. I think you see where I'm going with this. As it related to Constitution Hall, the DAR had an all white performer policy. There was an assumption that anything else, or black music, was inferior or subpar. So not to draw a certain crowd, Constitution Hall implemented a policy with the assumption that it would keep things high class with a sense of dignity. You know, white. There you have it.

Dominic Lawson (15:46):

This Black Is America podcast segment is brought to you by racism. Racism, the thing that makes irony go, "Are they serious?" Now after much deliberation, Mary Anderson was denied to perform at Constitution Hall. In a press release, they would cite municipal law as their reason. However, there was no municipal law or national law telling them they had to do this. The DAR was a private organization and could have made this happen if they wanted to, but they decided not to. Think about that for a minute. The highest paid singer in the world and deemed the voice of the century is denied to perform simply because of the color of her skin. Yeah.

Dominic Lawson (16:38):
Here enters Walter White, the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Color People or NAACP. He couldn't let this go. White, a fan of Marian Anderson for a long time, would see this disrespect and use it as fuel for action. Walter White was highly connected to many dignitaries and government officials. This may be due in large part to him being fair skinned and often passing as white. Earlier in his career, White would use this to his advantage as he would infiltrate white supremacist groups to investigate the lynchings of black Americans. He has a fascinating story that I invite you to check out. Go to blackisamericapodcast.com and Marian Anderson's part two show notes.

Dominic Lawson (17:26):

I'm not kidding. When I say Walter White had quite the network. In January of 1939, one of the first calls that he made was to the white house because the DAR had a very famous member attached. First lady at the time, Eleanor Roosevelt, is regarded throughout American history as a champion of women's rights and civil rights for African Americans. So it would make sense that Walter White calls her. He asked her to resign from the DAR. This would send the message that the first lady would not tolerate such discrimination. She declines, but she said that she would lend her name to the cause.

Dominic Lawson (18:05):

Seeing how Marian was treated over the next two months, for instance, seeing the DC school district denying the contralto the opportunity to perform at an all white school, I guess Miss Roosevelt had enough. In February of 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt makes a statement in her national column and sent a resignation letter to the DAR.

Dominic Lawson (18:27):

Here's an excerpt of letter. Quote, "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." End quote.

Dominic Lawson (18:54):

There was not much interest in this story nationally, but all that changed when the first lady of the United States makes this statement. Papers from all over the country begin to denounce the DAR. From this, a unique idea for itself, Harold Ickes, secretary of the interior, Sol Hurok, Marian's manager, and Walter White still want her to perform on Easter Sunday. On April 9th, 1939, Marian Anderson would do just that, but this time from a much larger venue.

Speaker 4 (19:30):

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We are speaking to you from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation's capital, from which point the national broadcasting company brings you a song recital by the gifted Marian Anderson, considered by music critics throughout the world as possessing a most outstanding contralto voice. This concert is presented under the auspices of Howard University of Washington, DC.

Dominic Lawson (19:52):

Marian's life, until this point, has not been the easiest. Her father passed away, being thrust into poverty, being told no at every turn from the Philadelphia Music Academy to Constitution Hall. But none of that matters now because here, on Easter Sunday, this black woman was about to have the attention of an entire nation.

Speaker 4 (20:17):

The United States park police officially estimate the attendance at over 75,000.

Dominic Lawson (20:21):
Not to mention the millions listening on the radio. Even though Marian has performed worldwide, she admits she is a bit nervous. Here again is Marian Anderson, courtesy of the Penn libraries.

Marian Anderson (20:35):

I had such a feeling that I had never had before. The only thing that came near to it was the time when Toscanini came backstage in Salzburg. My heart was throbbing to the point that I could scarcely hear anything.

Dominic Lawson (20:50):
Before the concert, even Secretary Ickes would have a few words.

Harold Ickes (20:55):

When God gave us this wonderful outdoors and the sun, the moon, and the stars, he made no distinction of race or creed or color. We are grateful to Miss Marian Anderson for coming here to sing to us today.

Dominic Lawson (21:15):

When we decided to create the Black Is America podcast, it was to highlight people and stories that showed the story of America could not have been written without black America. But it is also to highlight that we contribute to this country because it belongs to us too. I believe Marian Anderson shared this sentiment, which is why the first song she sang on Easter Sunday, at the steps of all places, the Lincoln Memorial, was a particularly interesting one, as Auntie Marian stakes her claim in American history.

Dominic Lawson (22:13):

Marian would sing other songs that day. A Schubert piece, even Negro spirituals. But for me, this was the most important song because as this black woman is singing my country tis of thee, what she is really saying is that this is our country. We have bled, we have cried and we have died for it. That won't be changing anytime soon.

Dominic Lawson (22:41):

Marian would go on to perform around the world and across the country. I guess a particular organization got their act together there because between 1943 and 1964, she would perform at Constitution Hall multiple times. If you go on the DAR's website, there's even a special section for Marian Anderson. We have a link to that section, if you want to check it out, in the show notes of this episode on our website, blackisamericapodcast.com.

Dominic Lawson (23:31):
One day, she would be presented the opportunity of a lifetime.

Marian Anderson (23:36):

I saw Mr. Ben, and then he came over and spoke. Without any ceremony at all, he said, "Would you be interested in singing with the Metropolitan?"

Dominic Lawson (23:49):

On January 7th, 1955, Marian Anderson would become the first African American to sing with the famed Metropolitan Opera. When the curtain rolls on her scene, before she can even sing a note, she was welcomed with a roaring applause. If her singing at the Lincoln Memorial stamped her place in American history, then her singing with the Metropolitan Opera would cement her as a musical legend. Not bad for a little black girl from south Philly.

Dominic Lawson (24:20):

From there, Marian Anderson would receive commendation after commendation. She sang for both Dwight D Eisenhower and John F Kennedy's inaugurations, receives 24 honorary doctorates, be awarded the presidential medal of freedom, the very first one, the congressional gold medal, and even the United Nations peace prize for her work in civil rights. Speaking of civil rights, she would even sing at the March on Washington. She would also become part of pop culture, appearing in the very popular game show, What's My Line, a show where the game uses celebrity panelists to question contestants in order to determine their occupation. They would also have a weekly celebrity mystery guest, which they were blindfolded for. On this day, the panelists would not be able to guess this week's celebrity guest.

What's My Line (25:11): Are you Barbara Streisand?

What's My Line (25:15):
No. That's 10 down and no more to go. You may now... Oh, you're going to be unhappy. Unmask and meet Miss Marian Anderson.

Dominic Lawson (25:22):

Marian would go on to retire in 1965. Throughout Marian's career, especially in the later years of her life until her death in 1993, Marian was an advocate of championing the next generation of artists, singers and musicians, especially though who look like her. They would ultimately speak to her legacy.

Charlie Edmonds (25:53):

I got my bachelor's in music education at the University of Tennessee. Then I went on to get my masters actually here at Indiana University at the Jacobs School of Music. That was in music education as well. Then I went back to Knoxville, where the University of Tennessee is, to teach at a middle school.

Dominic Lawson (26:11):
Here again is Charlie Edmonds. She goes on to share with us her experience as a music teacher in east Tennessee.
Charlie Edmonds (26:18):

That was my pride and joy. I didn't want to go back there at first. I spent a whole year mad that I was back at my college town, but teaching those babies... It was a predominantly black school. If you know anything about east Tennessee, there aren't many black people at all. There's still a whole lot of sundown town and just rapid racism.

Dominic Lawson (26:42):

In case you were not aware, sundown towns, talked about in the recent HBO series, Lovecraft Country, were towns where if you were black in one of these towns, you better be inside before it turned dark, because there was only trouble awaiting you. Here's Charlie again.

Charlie Edmonds (27:00):

To be able to be in the one black community that's in east Tennessee and be able to build a band program there was really inspiring for me. It's helped me now in my PhD work where I'm back now in Indiana doing this work. I get to do research on disparities and lack of funding and resources in teacher preparation for black students and teaching in predominantly black schools. It's something that hasn't really explored that much in music education yet, especially not by a black researcher because there aren't many of us yet in music education at the research level.

Dominic Lawson (27:31):
I was curious about the disparities and lack of resources Charlie spoke of.

Charlie Edmonds (27:37): Where did I even start?

Dominic Lawson (27:38): That many, huh?

Charlie Edmonds (27:40):

Yeah, just to start off with, in a band program to think about all of the things you need, it's an expensive thing to do. So when I got there, there had been a lot of turnover with teachers and the band directors specifically. They hadn't really been able to keep anybody for a long time. I think the longest that somebody had been there for a while was four years. There was a lot of distrust there because of teacher turnover. Then with instruments, there wasn't a culture of buying instruments, of investing in the arts or anything like that. So I had to really ask the district, how do we get instruments? What do we do? All of these things, when I came just to teach in the schools. Everybody else in the district gets to go to their school and just teach because their parents are already going to buy instruments, they're going to buy reeds and mouth pieces and put their kids in lessons and really invest in them.

Charlie Edmonds (28:37):

When I had to start and most directors that start at black schools have to start at the baseline level of, okay, let's get supplies. Let's get resources and get instruments in the kids' hand. We're still expected to perform at the same level of everybody else in the district with not the same starting place and without additional teachers. A lot of the directors had two directors or they were able to hire additional instructors through their budget or through other supports that they had in place already. We didn't have any of that. It was just me and the high school director who was helping me a lot. There was just somany disparities.

Charlie Edmonds (29:17):

Going to the professional development that we would have to have every once in a while in the district and hearing the other directors talk about the student teachers they had. The university didn't send student teachers to us. I remember when I was student teaching at UT, I had to beg to go to one of the black elementary schools to student teach. They never had placed anybody there. They didn't want to. They didn't see that as valuable.

Charlie Edmonds (29:43):

So when I got to the same community to teach in, I never received any student teachers. There was never anybody visiting my school to train their teachers, which means at the university level, music education majors aren't working with black children. They aren't seeing disparities. They aren't exposed to that. So they get painted this rosy image of what teaching is like. They search for those schools that are ideal, instead of trying to teach at schools that really need help. There were just so many things.

Charlie Edmonds (30:14):

Being the only black female director in the east Tennessee band orchestra association, there were disparities there just because decisions that were made for everybody else's programs. So nobody was considering what we needed at our school, even when it came to figuring out where auditions were going to be held for honor bands and stuff like that. You're familiar with Maryville college. A lot of things got held in Maryville, which for school in Knoxville, it was in east Knoxville. That's a long way to Maryville.

Dominic Lawson (30:49): Yes, it is.

Charlie Edmonds (30:49):

So to hold auditions, always out of the county, me asking, "Hey, my kids can't get there. Can we hold auditions somewhere else?" They'd be like, "It works for us." That was it. Even just getting the kids to the audition was something to overcome.

Dominic Lawson (31:07):
So Charlie is doing her part with the program she is developing.

Charlie Edmonds (31:11):

Currently, I'm working on something I'm calling Pocket, which is about playing in the pocket, which is our natural thing that we do as black people. It highlights our natural inclination toward own music. It's a beginning band resource. So what I'm working on is a method system. It's an online database of arrangements that I've done of black music that teach the same concepts as the method book, but using our music. So those three pitches in Hot Crossed Buns, you could play almost... Well, adding two more pitches of the concert B flat scale, you could play Lean On Me. "Some times in our lives, we all have pain." It goes up and down the first five pitches of the concert B flat scale, but it's black music instead.

Charlie Edmonds (31:57):

So I've written almost 100 arrangements now of black music and watered it down. Not watered it down, but simplified it to the beginning band level, so that directors have something to pull from that's black. So that students, no matter what their upbringing are, get exposed to black music and get exposed to the groove of playing in the pocket, which is why I call it Pocket. So I'm working on that. That should be launched hopefully by December. It'll be a subscription service for districts, for band directors, for parents, whoever wants to subscribe, but there are different pricing levels for it. Then the play along tracks, hopefully working on it will be recorded by HBCU bands. So the students get to play alone with HBCU bands, but get to play songs at the fundamental level and really feel like they're doing something cool while learning their instrument and getting tutorials and all sorts of things from this website and this experience.

Dominic Lawson (32:52):
As Charlie does her part to create the next generation of young artists that will impact American culture, she reflects back on what Marian did for her generation and what that means to her.

Charlie Edmonds (33:04):

Obviously, her singing and performance legacy is cemented. We have heard that so many times and I think that will continue, but her philanthropic work and her work in music education, I think still needs to get out there. The thing that inspired me or still gives me inspiration for the program that I was telling you about with black music and beginning band, a lot of that is inspired by the things she did for children. So when we talked about Snoopy Cat, that children's album that she recorded, that was in 1963, as I'm looking... Yes, 1963. She mixed in storytelling. There was her speech on there. She was telling stories, narrating a story, and then she would interject songs sung by her. Then she also provided opportunities for the music honor to be composed by female composers. She was opening all these doors just through recording a children's album. It inspires me to use what I've got and use my experiences to help children to figure out what type of doors we can open.

Dominic Lawson (34:13):

As those doors continue to open, black America will not only continue to flourish, but also contribute to the arts and culture of this country. When you think about it, this country depends on it because it sets us apart and influences other parts of the world from the techno music out of Europe to the K-pop sound in Korea. While it would be Marian Anderson who would open those doors for many, her musical career would cement her as one of the best to ever do it in classical music. Her willingness to endure poverty and use her platform to repel both fascism abroad and racism at home by simply remaining true to herself, reminds us that sometimes, as A Philip Randolph would say, "Freedom is never given. It is won." Through it, all Marian Anderson won with grace, dignity, and a talent that was undeniable. That is why Marian Anderson is truly the voice of the century and America's contralto.

Dominic Lawson (35:24):

The Black Is America podcast, a presentation of Al's Education was created, and it is written research and produced by me, Dominic Lawson. Executive producer, Kendall Lawson. Cover art was created by Alexandria Eddings, of Art Life Connections. Special thanks to Charlie Edmonds, associate instructor and PhD student at Indiana University, Terry Stevens, educator and historian, and also Marian Anderson via the Penn libraries who posted her interviews on their YouTube page. Lastly, the New York Times, which was critical in research for this episode.

Dominic Lawson (36:04):

Be sure to like, review and subscribe to Black Is America podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. For a full transcript of this episode and other resources, go to www.blackisamericapodcast.com. There, you can read our blog, leave us a review or you can leave a voicemail where you can ask a question or let us know what you think of the show. We may play it on an upcoming episode. You can also hit the donation button if you like what you heard, which helps us create more educational content like this. Finally, thank you so much for listening to the Black Is America podcast, where our history comes to life. Until next time.


Charlie EdmondsProfile Photo

Charlie Edmonds

Educator/Musician/PhD Student

Charlie Edmonds is a music educator and musician who advocates for the intentional and equitable teaching of Black students and the comprehensive training of educators. Currently in her second year of PhD work in Music Education at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, her research focuses are equitable access in urban school band programs, culturally responsive teaching, and increased university support and practicum experiences for urban schools and preservice teachers. In 2022, Charlie's beginning band educational tool, Pocket, will launch as a database of beginning instrumental music exercises and methods based on Black music genres.

Terri Stephens

Educator/Historian/Sister/Aunt/Doll Collector/Dog Mom

Terri Stephens is a native Memphian that enjoys learning and teaching about history. A product of Memphis City Schools, now Memphis-Shelby County Schools, Terri graduated from Westwood High School. She then went on to attend Washington University, St. Louis where she obtained a B.A. degree in African and Afro-American studies (1994). Terri continued her academic pursuits at the University of Memphis. During this time, she studied education. Terri received an M.A. in Teaching, as well as licensure to teach grades 1-8. In the fall of 1996, Terri began her teaching career. This did not stop her love of history, as a matter of fact, she taught 6th grade World Civilizations for 22 years. During this time, Terri went to Chicago to participate in a summer program with the HistoryMakers with teaches from across the country. She has also served on numerous state committees with a focus on teaching social studies/ history.

Terri currently serves as Social Studies Instructional coach for the Whitehaven Empowerment Zone of Memphis-Shelby County Schools. In this role, she coaches other classroom teachers to become stronger in their pedagogy.

On a more personal note, Terri’s love of history began at home with her parents. Her family would often sit together to watch historical documentaries and movies, i.e. Eyes on the Prize, Roots, Shaka Zulu. She still continues this practice with her nieces and nephew. Also, any family trip turns into a history lesson according to her sisters.