Spinning History

I am spending part of today editing and putting the links in my upcoming posts on our trip to DC. In the process of looking up those links, I stumbled on an incredibly cynical effort to spin history.

The website for the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) has a page on Constitution Hall, the facility that DAR refused to make available for a performance by Marian Anderson back in the late 30’s, as alluded to in a previous post. However, if you go to this page on the DAR website today, you will find a link to the Marian Anderson postage stamp dedication ceremony which was held in that facility a few years ago.

Yes, you read that correctly. The official dedication of a postage stamp honoring the African American singer Marian Anderson – a singer who was famously denied use of Constitution Hall because of her race – was held in that very hall. Furthermore, the comments made by the president of DAR on that occasion seem to indicate that, over all, it was for the best that racism prevailed at that time because it lead to change later:

. . . . It is most fitting that we gather in Memorial Continental Hall at Constitution Hall, the place which historically represents a sad chapter in our country’s history and in the history of DAR. We deeply regret that Marian Anderson was not given the opportunity to perform her 1939 Easter concert in Constitution Hall but recognize that in the positive sense the event was a pivotal point in the struggle for racial equality.

Ms. Anderson’s legendary concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial will always be remembered as a milestone in the Civil Rights movement. The beauty of her voice, amplified by her courage and grace, brought attention to the eloquence of the many voices urging our nation to overcome prejudice and intolerance. It sparked change not only in America but also in the DAR.. . .

And here I have always thought we’d have been better off as a nation if there had been no racism and, thus, no need for a civil rights movement!

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