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Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will be rededicated as Marian Anderson Hall, home of The Philadelphia Orchestra


Celebrating Women’s History Month 2024 and Honoring Marian Anderson’s Legacy

Posted by:  The Philadelphia Orchestra and Ensemble Arts on March 01, 2024

The commemoration of Women’s History Month began as a local endeavor in 1978 in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women created the “Women’s History Week” celebration within kindergarten through 12th grade schools. Coinciding with International Women’s Day on March 8th, hundreds of women from the local community taught students about important women in history through special presentations in classrooms, essay contests for students, and celebratory parades. 


The celebration was well-received by many, encouraging smaller yet similar commemorations in other communities and curriculums. Such enthusiasm encouraged the National Women’s History Alliance, alongside women at other local organizations, to seek national support for the week. In 1980, they successfully petitioned President Jimmy Carter to issue a presidential proclamation which declared the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week. Later the same year, Representative Barabra Mikulski (MD) and Senator Orrin Hatch (UT) co-sponsored a congressional resolution to nationally recognized the week-long celebration. The bill was approved in 1981.


For the next five years, more communities adopted the tradition. Nationally, Congress continued to pass a joint resolution yearly to recognize the holiday, urging the president to make a public proclamation as well. However, the continuous renewal required yearly efforts from women’s organizations in order for it to be passed. As such, in 1987, the National Women’s History Alliance persuaded Congress once more to pass a public law that declared March as Women’s History Month in perpetuity. 


The Philadelphia Orchestra and Ensemble Arts celebrates Women’s History Month all season long by featuring female talent both on and off the stage. To commemorate the month itself, this year we wanted to honor the women of our community, while also honoring civic icon and Philadelphian legend Marian Anderson. We asked each female staffer to select their favorite quotation from Anderson and explain why it speaks to them personally. 

See below for each participant’s response –  


“I think if you have something to offer which can help a situation, then I think you should do it in your own manner.”  - Marian Anderson

"This quote speaks to me because I feel there are many ways people can help other people or help a cause. Some people are able to provide financial assistance. Others prefer to offer support by showing up at an event or for a person.  There are those who will show their support loudly for all to see, hoping to influence others. And those who prefer to help quietly. Everyone is different. I think Marian Anderson meant that help comes in many forms, and they are all important, so don’t let anything hold you back when you feel you can have a positive impact. Just do you.  " - Sue Borowsky, Administrative Assistant to the VP of Audience Services



“My mother said to me, 'My child listen, whatever you do in this world no matter how good it is, you will never be able to please everybody. But what one should strive for is to do the very best humanly possible.”  - Marian Anderson

"The quote I picked spoke to me because it is very important to understand that you can't please everybody. Just be yourself and always try your best. " - Ashley Colston, People and Culture Coordinator



“If you have a purpose in which you can believe, there is no end to the amount of things you can accomplish.”  - Marian Anderson 

"I admire this quotation from Marian Anderson because she is an extraordinary example of the power of commitment to purpose. Her words also offer a healthy dose of perspective. Given the obstacles she had to overcome – racial injustice, economic disadvantage, lack of equal access to educational opportunities – my own excuses for getting derailed here and there or losing focus seem pretty weak. Because of circumstances far beyond Ms. Anderson’s control, she had to work much harder than others did even though she had once-in-a-generation talent. Through it all, she believed in herself, her abilities, and in the transformative power of music.

I am in awe of Marian Anderson’s artistry, courage, and the dignity and grace with which she comported herself in life. Because of who she was, as an artist and as a human being, her example continues to make the world a better place even after her death. That’s an accomplishment. " - Ellen Exner, Administrative Manager, Philanthropy



"Music to me means so much, such beautiful things." - Marian Anderson

"To me, music is more than just a collection of sounds. It can provide a sense of connection, support, and understanding during difficult moments. " - Mia Lowry, Security Supervisor


"The minute a person...dares to take the open-hearted and courageous way, many others follow."  - Marian Anderson

"The reason I chose that particular quote: I aim to have a life lived with integrity and hope to be a shining example for others to do the same. If we all have the courage to stand up for what is right and take action against injustices, it will create a culture of support and care for all." - Winona Wyatt, Director of Digital Marketing


“A person has to be busy to be alive.” - Marian Anderson

"Marian Anderson is still alive through music because she wasn’t sitting around waiting for her dream to come true. In her short comment, she tells us so much about the urgency of having a mission-driven life and the hard work that accompanies it. Her legacy truly makes me want to get busy and work in the arts, so that her music will live on. " - Makiko Freeman, Artistic Administrator, The Philadelphia Orchestra


I think first of music and of being there where music is, and of music being where I am.” - Marian Anderson

"Music has always been a guiding light in my life: from my first memories of watching my mom choreograph musicals through the years of vocal training and attending college for musical theatre and to the career path that led me to pursue a role with this organization. Being immersed in the musical arts has been a leading factor in the life choices I have made.  Outside of work, I can be found attending concerts with friends, browsing used record stores for my new favorite artist (or old Philadelphia Orchestra records), or going on a run with the perfect playlist. Daily, I return to music to ground myself and find joy and comfort. Like the great Marian Anderson, I want to be where the music is." - Kyleigh Taylor, Associate Director of Audience Services


See answers from our past participants in 2019, 2020, 2022, and 2023. Join us as we celebrate and uplift female performers all season long at The Philadelphia Orchestra and Ensemble Arts! 

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