Aldersgate United Methodist Women met this month shared reports on several African American women as part of Black History Month. Here are two of the women we heard about: 

ELIZABETH CATLETT, 1915-2012, was an important black American artist, who found her calling in Iowa. After growing up in Washington, D.C., and earning a bachelor’s degree in art in 1935 at Howard University, she came to the University of Iowa to study painting with Grant Wood. She became interested in sculpture and received the first Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture at the university. She was celebrated for creating art that depicted the harsh reality of black women’s labor and rendered the fears, struggles and achievements of ordinary African American women. The University of Iowa dedicated the new Elizabeth Catlett Residence Hall in 2017, and a large-scale version of her Stepping Out sculpture was installed in the Iowa Memorial Union.      (Nancy Stockdale)

MARIAN ANDERSON was an African American singer whose life spanned most of the 20th Century.  She grew up in South Philadelphia where her talent was recognized at age six when she began singing at church.  Her community and church gave her financial support so that she could have private training.  Using her wonderful Contralto voice, she gave concerts in Europe and the United States signing spiritual and classical music.  However, the racial barriers in the United States presented many obstacles, and in 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let her sing in Constitution Hall.  Eleanor Roosevelt (then First Lady) learned of this and arranged for Marian Anderson to give an outdoor concert at Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, leading with the song “My Country Tis of Thee” and drawing a crowd of 75,000 plus millions of radio listeners. She became the first Africa American singer to perform at the White House and the New York Metropolitan Opera, and she also sang at the inaugurations of Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. Her discrimination experiences led her to be active in the Civil Rights Movement, promoting racial equality, and Marian performed again at the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at the request of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.                         (Linda Rullan)