Charles H. Atherton Memorial Lecture: Beauty vs. Barricades

Dear Coalition Friends:

Yesterday and today, the National Mall was the place history was remembered and traditions celebrated.  See the stories below about yesterday’s Easter Morning concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial honoring Marian Anderson’s performance there in 1939 – and today’s Easter egg roll on the White House lawn.

Tomorrow evening’s Atherton Memorial lecture at the National Building Museum addresses security, a topic of critical importance to the future of the Mall and Washington, D.C.   [Charles Atherton died tragically in 2005 soon after retiring as Secretary of the US Commission of Fine Arts and just months after joining the advisory board of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall’s “Third Century Mall” initiative.]

Charles H. Atherton Memorial Lecture: Beauty vs. Barricades
Robert Campbell, architectural critic for The Boston Globe, examines how to balance the need for security with accessibility, transparency, and aesthetics in D.C.’s built environment.
$12 Member | FREE Student | $20 Non-member
Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.
Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Time: 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Place:  National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW



A Refrain of Song and Citizenship

By Richard Leiby
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 13, 2009; C01

Two children of Jamaican immigrants, generations apart, listened to a magnificent Italian aria, sang along with spirituals and found themselves clasping hands together at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday. They had never met before and almost certainly never would have, had an opera star named Marian Anderson not suffered racial indignity decades before.

“Only in America” is a cliche, yes, but it seems to apply in the case of a young woman named Amoy Ulette and an old soldier named Colin Powell. First, the context for their meeting.

On Easter Sunday, 70 years ago, Anderson famously performed to a crowd of 75,000 at the memorial to the Great Emancipator, having been barred because of her color from singing at Constitution Hall. It was an iconic moment in the civil rights struggle. Yesterday, Denyce Graves, a Washington native and one of the world’s most celebrated mezzo-sopranos, sang portions of Anderson’s 1939 program in a tribute to the great African American contralto, whom she described as her hero.

“It is the honor of my life and my career to be celebrating this day of freedom with you,” Graves said. Wearing a sleeveless silk, floor-length gown that Anderson had given her, Graves performed to a far smaller crowd — besides invited guests, there appeared to be at most a couple of thousand people on the lawn.

Many of the tourists visiting the Lincoln Memorial seemed oblivious to the operatic royalty in their midst. But Graves’s voice was so powerful it drew gasps from the audience as she sang “America,” Donizetti’s “O, Mio Fernando” and “Ave Maria.”

The “Celebration of Freedom” event was put on by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, one of three programs at the memorial to mark Lincoln’s birth year. Among the concert’s sponsors: the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, the very group that refused to let Anderson perform at Constitution Hall…

Click on the headline above to read the full story.


Obamas Host Easter Egg Roll on White House Lawn

By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 13, 2009; 11:21 AM

Thousands of children gathered at the White House today for the first Easter egg roll of the Obama administration, an event with a 131-year tradition that this year is aimed at promoting healthy, active lifestyles among the nation’s youth.

Presided over by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, the 2009 Easter Egg Roll revolves around the traditional race in which children use oversized spoons to push decorated eggs across an expanse of White House lawn. But it also features musical performances by pop star Fergie, Ziggy Marley and the D.C. Youth Orchestra, among others.

After a rousing rendition of the National Anthem by Fergie, President Obama this morning officially welcomed the throng to the White House from a balcony overlooking the South Lawn. Appearing with him were Michelle Obama, their children Malia and Sasha and a person wearing an Eastern bunny costume.

“This is one of the greatest White House traditions because it reminds us that this is the people’s house,” Obama said.

Click on the headline above to read the full story.