Stepping Ahead of the Crowd

Stepping Ahead of the Crowd

Recently I was reading the life story of the world's greatest contralto singer. Who is this person?

The world's greatest contralto is a woman and a Negro. She is Marian Anderson. She grew up with two strikes against her, you might say. In a nation where white people run things, she was colored, and, as a poor girl, she had little money for music lessons.

How she struggled, sacrificed, worked. got the training she needed, is in itself a long story. Once an organization wouldn't let her sing in an auditorium in Washington, D.C., because she was colored. Sounds crazy, but it's the truth. When people heard about this outrage, an out-of-door concert was arranged in Washington, and more came to hear her there than could have crowded inside.

But it's not as a great singer that I want to present Marian Anderson to you today, but as a great person. For she is a very great person as well.

In her life story she gives this bit of advice: "When we are afraid to do the right thing, and yet we know it's the right thing, then go ahead and do it. Others who were afraid, too, will then join you, and then others. All they want is somebody who's bold enough to take the first step, then they'll follow."

I know that lots of times you're afraid to do the right thing, to stand up for the right. How do I know? Because I was a boy once and know how you feel.

All around you, in school and at play, are others who are sometimes afraid to do what they know is right. It takes courage of the best kind to step out ahead of the crowd. Other kids laugh at you. Some might call you "sissy." Even your friends might think you're making a fool of yourself.

But the world is as good as it is today because great leaders did dare to do the right—to change the old ways for new ways.

Marian Anderson became great by daring to do right. In your own way you can become great too. No matter how afraid you are, follow your conscience. Before long others will say, "That's the way I feel too."

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