The first thing I do every morning when I open my copy of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is check what we Milwaukeeans fondly call the “Green Sheet.” It’s the time-honored section of the paper that features comics, puzzles, and news about the arts, but my favorite part is the “This Day in History” column. And yes, the page is green.

            April 9th boosts many noteworthy events, such as milk was sold in bottles for the first time in 1879, the first baseball game was played at Fenway Park in 1912, and Mae West’s scandalous new play, Diamond Lil, opened in NYC in 1928. However, there were three headlines that caught my attention: King George signed the Treaty of Paris officially ending the Revolution in 1783, Lee surrendered to Grant in 1865, and Marion Anderson sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939.

            Anyone who has read my Civil War trilogy, The Bone Pile, knows that the Civil War is of particular interest to me. My husband and I visited Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park and stood in the parlor where General Lee and Grant met to sign the documents. It was heralded as a momentous occasion when slavery supposedly ended, marking the end of a horrific and regrettable chapter of American history.

            And yet, 156 years after the end of our great war of independence when the Colonists insisted that all men should be treated equal and 74 years after the end of the Civil War, an African-American operatic singer by the name of Marion Anderson was forced to give a concert outdoors because the Daughters of the Revolution would not allow a Black singer inside the sacred confines of their Constitution Hall. Ms. Anderson had performed for audiences all over the world but she had limited engagements in concert halls in the US due to the whites-only policies in many of these places. When she was denied access to Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, there was a great out-pouring of support and many women, most prominently Eleanor Roosevelt, resigned from the DAR and an outdoor concert was arranged on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It is said that 75,000 people were in attendance that Easter morning while millions more listened on their radios.

            It is striking that these three events occurred on the same day in this country’s history. Many believe that the reconstruction era would have been much different if Lincoln had not been assassinated on April 14th, a week after the end of the war. Perhaps with his strength, determination, and political savvy, he would have facilitated an easier and more direct assimilation of the former slaves into mainstream society—but we’ll never know for sure, will we.

            I visited the Lincoln Memorial many years ago as a teenager. I remember standing at the foot of that statue, thinking at he was looking at me straight in the eye. That shadowed, stone face has witnessed many events: MLK’s “I have a dream” speech, demonstrations of every conceivable cause from gay rights to anti-war marches, and the beautiful, captivating voice of Marion Anderson resonating across the sea of people. It must have brought them to tears.

            In 2014, 74 years after her concert and 148 years after the end of the Civil War, Russia annexed Crimea, there was an Ebola crisis in West Africa, and an unarmed, young man named Michael Brown was gunned down in Freguson, MO. Politicians espoused changes, preachers decried the violence, and people like me began flying Black Lives Matter flags in our front lawns. But the sad, shameful truth is things haven’t changed much.

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