1,200 Spartanburg fourth and fifth graders visited Converse College Wednesday, Feb. 7, to learn about and celebrate the life of Marian Anderson (1897-1993), renowned contralto singer, humanitarian and symbol for anti-segregation in the Civil Rights era. Their visit was made possible by a partnership between Converse, Spartanburg School District 7 and the Spartanburg Day School.
At 10 a.m., Converse students and faculty presented “Remembering Marian: Her Life in Song” in Twichell Auditorium. The 40-minute multi-media event included a narrative about Anderson’s life, video clips of her interviews and performances, and performances by Converse music students of spirituals that established Anderson as one of the most inspiring black women of the last century.
As the fourth and fifth graders exited Twichell, each of them was given a hard cover copy of the award-winning book “When Marian Sang” by Pam Munoz Ryan. Among other honors, the book was the 2003 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and the 2003 Orbis Pictus Winner for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children.
Additionally, teachers accompanying the fourth and fifth graders received a resource guide created by Converse education majors to provide ideas for incorporating lessons about Anderson into their curriculum.
Billy and Lindsay Webster, JM Smith Corporation, and Ford & Harrison LLP sponsored the event.
“This public-private partnership is an outstanding example of how our community can work together to expand K-12 learning opportunities,” said Converse president Betsy Fleming. “Dedicated to advancing women and education for all, Converse is proud to lead this charge in inspiring young students to dream big and pursue their passions. Marian Anderson is an amazing role model for us to celebrate during Black History Month. Her ambition to share her gift of song with the world and her great humanity helped to break down traditional boundaries. We hope that our gift of ‘When Marian Sang’ will be a source of continued inspiration for the children, their teachers and their families long after Feb. 7th.”
On Sept. 11, 2006 Converse unveiled an eight-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Anderson in front of Twichell Auditorium—its permanent home. New York-based sculpture artist Meredith Bergmann was commissioned by Converse and a generous donor to create the sculpture. “When we dedicated the sculpture of Miss Anderson in September, we performed a commemorative concert for adults, and thought it would be wonderful to extend ou