Danbury Day at the Capitol
Honored to have hosted my first Danbury Day at the State Capitol and what an exciting day it was! During this year’s celebration, the Danbury Delegation joined the city’s schools, businesses and community organizations to honor the life and legacy of Danbury’s greatest citizen, Marian Anderson, who broke barriers for black artists in the United States, and four other remarkable individuals.
Anderson is most renowned for her performance on Easter Sunday in 1939. Her vibrant contralto voice – called by many the greatest voice of the 20th century - washed over a crowd of more than 75,000 as she sang from the Lincoln Memorial steps in Washington D.C., in front of the iconic statue of Abraham Lincoln. She had been denied the use of the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall because it was reserved for only white performers. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in arranging for the concert, after publicly resigning from the DAR.
After her retirement years later, Anderson and her husband, architect Orpheus “King” Fisher, moved to Marianna Farm on the west side of Danbury. Danbury residents continue to celebrate and commemorate her life, especially that pivotal moment 80 years ago, which helped define American civil rights and planted the seeds of the larger Civil Rights Movement. Anderson was a civil rights leader renowned for her voice and musical aptitude, and elevated American culture.
During the Danbury Day ceremony, Western Connecticut State University announced it would rename its School of Visual and Performing Arts and the Visual and Performing Arts Center in honor of Marian.
Legislators also honored Marge Gallo, Danbury’s longtime Democratic Registrar of Voters; former State Representative Lew Wallace, who protected Ms. Anderson’s studio, which is now on the grounds of the Scott-Fanton museum; Mary Teicholz, who served on the Danbury City Council for 10 years, authored a book about her battle with cancer, and with her husband crated the veteran’s brick walk at the War memorial; and long-time civic leader and Catholic War Veterans Commander Albert Mead.
Event participants included the city of Danbury and Mayor Mark Boughton, Danbury Hospital, Danbury Music Center, Danbury Scott-Fanton Museum, the Cultural Alliance of Western CT, the United Way of Western CT, and the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.