Other forms of the name: Marianne, Marion, Marjan, Mairwen
Marian is a lovely name, probably my favorite spelling of the name (aside from Marianne). The most famous bearer of this name is probably Maid Marian, the legendary Robin Hood’s love. Maid Marian was not in the earliest versions of the Robin Hood tale, but he did love a woman named Clorinda; later on Clorinda was used as Marian as an alias.
Marian hasn’t been on US name list since 1992, which would make it uncommon and ripe for a comeback.
The famous Marian we’re talking about today is Marian Anderson. Marian was a famous contralto and one of the most loved singers of the Twentieth century. Even though she was very well-known and loved, that did not stop the prejudice. She was often denied to sing in certain hotels and even eat at some restaurants. Albert Einstein often allowed her to stay with him and hosted her concerts at his home.
In 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution denied Marian the right to perform in front of an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. In 1939 Washington was a segregated city and black audience members were upset that they had to sit in the back of the hall. Then The District of Columbia Board of Education denied her permission to perform in a white school’s auditorium. Because of this Eleanor Roosevelt and thousands of other members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, resigned.
The Roosevelt’s, Walter White, and Marian’s manager, Sol Hurok, after some persuasion, arranged for Marian to perform an open air concert in front of an integrated crowd on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. She performed “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” on Easter Sunday to a crowd of more than 75,000 people of all colors and was a big hit on the radio.
During World War II Marian often sung for the troops in hospitals and bases, and eventually married Orpheus H. Fisher. In 1955 Marian was the first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera. She said of the night:
“The curtain rose on the second scene and I was there on stage, mixing the witch’s brew. I trembled, and when the audience applauded and applauded before I could sing a note, I felt myself tightening into a knot.”
Here is a short video of some of her famous performance at the Lincoln Memorial: