A photo of Martha Graham dancing
About the image

Yousuf Karsh, Martha Graham, 1948 © Yousuf Karsh, Gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh. National Portrait Gallery

Marian Anderson: A New Look at an Iconic Life

The galvanizing news photographs of Marian Anderson’s 1939 Easter Sunday performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial are among the most enduring images of both the singer and the struggle for civil rights in the last century.

A new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, One Life: Marian Anderson (June 28, 2019–May 17, 2020), shifts the attention from that defining moment to lesser-explored, yet pivotal aspects of the contralto’s ground-breaking career. The exhibition examines how artists, concert promoters, and others wielded her iconic likeness as a powerful symbol in the pursuit of civil rights. The paintings, photographs, personal effects, and archival materials provide a more nuanced understanding of how Anderson’s many roles, as singer, diplomat, and muse helped shatter segregationist policies on and off the stage.

Join the curator of the exhibition, Leslie Ureña, the gallery’s associate curator of photographs, to learn about the making of One Life: Marian Anderson and the cultural and artistic themes it illuminates.


After Five, Lectures & Discussions


Smithsonian Associates


S. Dillon Ripley Center

Event Location

S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Dr SW, Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit),


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Related Exhibition

One Life: Marian Anderson