Philly to Erect Marian Anderson Statue, City’s First Monument to a Black Woman

Philadelphia will soon have a new statue of the famed opera singer Marian Anderson. The monument will be the first in the city to honor a specific Black woman.

The proposed statue will sit on the north end of the steps at the Academy of Music, where Anderson performed many times. Because of this location, the artwork will need to be approved by both the Historical Commission and the Philadelphia Art Commission before it is installed. Along with the statue, supporters plan to install a digital plaque that would tell Anderson’s story, play her music, and illuminate the statue at night.

Jillian Patricia Pirtle, CEO of the National Marian Anderson Museum and Historical Society, along with a team of volunteers, has been raising funds for the statue through the Marian Anderson Memorial Statue Fund. So far the team has raised $200,000 out of an expected total cost of $500,000 to $700,000.

Fred Stein, a volunteer with the Marian Anderson Memorial Statue Fund, told WHYY that the statue was important for honoring more than Anderson’s musical talent. “Marian Anderson was much more than one of the greatest voices in the world. She broke ground for civil rights so that’s what this statue will ultimately represent in her hometown and in the birthplace of democracy,” Stein said.