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Draft page of “Art and the Color Line” by Anson Phelps Stokes, 1939.
Anson Phelps Stokes Papers. Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University.

Lauren Libaw ’09, Anson Phelps Stokes and the Marian Anderson Controversy

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This is the final page of a typed first draft of Stokes’s “Art and the Color Line.” With edits and additional notes in Stokes’s own hand, it touches on some of the treatise’s most important arguments related to racial equality in the arts. Stokes points out that the color line is not drawn in myriad situations for black scholars, visual artists, and writers of the highest order. So why, he asks, should it be drawn in the case of a truly great singer like Marian Anderson? Tanner and Barthe display their works in the nation’s most important galleries; white and African-American readers can all experience the literary genius of a Dunbar or a DuBois. He calls for the same fairness in matters of musical art: “We ask for fair play for American genius, for an opportunity for white and colored persons interested to hear world famous artists when they come to Washington.”