Marian Anderson is the person portrayed on the $5,000 I-Bond. Here is a little history about her:
Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993) was an African-American contralto, best remembered for her performance on Easter Sunday, 1939 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The concert, which ironically commenced with a dignified and stirring rendition of “America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee)”, was arranged by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes after the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) banned Marian from singing in Constitution Hall because of her race. As a result of the furor over the DAR’s refusal to allow Anderson to sing there, thousands of DAR members, including Eleanor Roosevelt resigned, and just four years later the DAR invited Anderson to sing at a benefit for the American Red Cross.
Marian Anderson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She joined a junior church choir at the age of six, and applied to an all-white music school after her graduation from high school in 1921, but was turned away because she was black. The woman working the admissions counter replied “We don’t take colored” when she tried to apply. Consequently, she continued her singing studies with a private teacher.
She debuted at the New York Philharmonic on August 26, 1925 and scored an immediate success, also with the critics. In 1928, she sang for the first time at Carnegie Hall. Her reputation was further advanced by her tour though Europe in the early 1930s. The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius dedicated his Solitude to her.
In 1955, Anderson broke the color barrier by becoming the first African-American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera. On that occasion, she sang the part of Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. The occasion was bittersweet as Anderson, at age 58, was no longer in her prime vocally.
Marian Anderson died in 1993 at her nephew’s home in Portland, Oregon at the age of 96 of natural causes. She is interred in the Eden Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.