Path Breaking Opera Singer Marian Anderson Sang at Marinship

Marian Anderson sang at Marinship on Feb. 17, 1943.

By Felecia Gaston,
Guest Columnist

While researching some names to submit articles for Black History Month, I stumbled across some very significant historical milestones that make me proud of being a Marinite.
I have learned that it is important to share this research, and I want to highlight the positive attributes of the beginnings of Marin City and to share with others these major historical milestones.
There will an ongoing series of articles and photographs during the months to come to share the rich history of Marin City.
As President Barack Obama has stated, “Let us honor those who came before by striving toward their example, and let us follow in their footsteps toward the better future that is ours to claim.”
The story of Marinship begins in 1942, when it was created by the United States Maritime Commission.  At that time, there was a great migration of many people to the Bay Area in World War II to help fill a labor shortage.
Major California enterprises, like Kaiser in Richmond and Bechtel in San Francisco, were contracted to establish shipyards to support the war effort.  The majority of the Marinship workers were multi-ethnic, including whites and Blacks, with some Asians and Latin Americans.
One such story was that Marian Anderson performed at a Marinship Launching on Feb. 17, 1943.
In 1939, Anderson, the famous Black opera singer, broke many color barriers when she was denied permission, because of her race, to perform in a Washington, D.C. hall owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Outraged, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D.  Roosevelt, arranged for Anderson to instead sing outdoors in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  Anderson opened with the song “America” and became a national hero.
She also was the first African American to sing at the White House and the New York Metropolitan Opera.