In Council News, Kenyatta Johnson, News by admin

Philadelphia, PA — Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) joined the leadership of the Marian Anderson Historical Residence and Museum (Marian Anderson Museum) on Thursday, July 29 to present a check for $100,00 to help the non-profit with operating expenses.

Councilman Johnson was joined by Marian Anderson Museum CEO Jillian Patricia Pirtle, members of the Marian Anderson Historical Society Board of Directors, and Jennifer Robinson, Director of Preservation Services, Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, for the check presentation and remarks.

The $100,000 from the City of Philadelphia comes at a critical time for the institution. The Marian Anderson Museum was severely impacted last year. COVID-19 forced the museum to close in March 2020, eliminating admission fees that pay the bills to keep it running. Several pipes burst in the house in the summer of that year flooding the basement and impacting the first floor of the home, causing severe damage.

After the flooding happened, Councilmember Johnson was able to commit $5,000 from the Philadelphia Activities Fund to the Marian Anderson Museum to help with operating expenses and repairs.

Councilmember Johnson also secured the $100,000 as part of the City of Philadelphia’s Fiscal Year 2022 operating budget. All of the money from the City of Philadelphia will be used to help the Marian Anderson Museum reopen to the public as soon as possible.

“The late Marian Anderson is one of the most famous Philadelphians in history and played a pivotal role in American history during the Civil Rights movement and throughout her life,” Johnson said. “The Marian Anderson Museum is an important cultural institution in Philadelphia and I am committed to finding ways to help it survive and thrive for years to come.”

“Our great Marian Anderson is one of the most important historical figures of the 20th century for her groundbreaking exceptional music artistry and humanitarianism,” Marian Anderson Museum CEO Pirtle said. “We have faced a devastating year and a half of loss due to the COVID Pandemic and our flood emergency disaster. We are incredibly grateful that our Councilman Kenyatta Johnson is leading the way in example of support for The Marian Anderson Museum and Historical Society. We are so thankful that he understands that the Marian Anderson Museum must be preserved, lifted up, and supported now and for our future generations to come.”

The Washington, D.C.-based National Trust for Historic Preservation recently announced a grant of $75,000 through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to help repair the exterior of the Marian Anderson Museum. A private Marian Anderson Memorial Fund Task Force has been created with the mission of raising money to create a statue of Marian Anderson and installing it outside the Academy of Music in Center City, the hall where the Philadelphia contralto performed numerous times. The Academy of Music is located in Councilmember Johnson’s Second Council District.

The Marian Anderson Museum honors the life and legacy of the late Philadelphia opera singer Marian Anderson. Ms. Anderson purchased the South Martin Street home (also known today as “Marian Anderson Way”) in 1924, right across the street from the Union Baptist Church where she sang as a child. She owned the property until her death in 1993 at age 96.

Ms. Anderson’s modest home contains rare photos, books, memorabilia, and films about her life. The museum is run and maintained by The Marian Anderson Historical Society. The house has been declared a historical landmark by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Historical Commission and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.
Anderson’s trailblazing performances occurred at Carnegie Hall, the White House and world-renowned concert halls. In 1939, she overcame racial barriers to sing at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Anderson toured the world and became the first African American woman to sing the national anthem at a presidential inauguration (President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957).

For more information on the Marian Anderson Museum, go to

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, a former Pennsylvania State Representative, represents the Second Council District, which includes parts of Center City, South Philadelphia, and Southwest Philadelphia. He is Chairman of City’s Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention

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