This Day in Black History: Jan. 31, 1943

Broadway star Etta Moten Barnett became the first Black person to sing at the White House.

(Photo: Chicago Library)

Broadway star and film actress Etta Moten Barnett sang at the birthday party for President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Jan. 31, 1943, becoming the first African-American to perform at the White House.

She performed "Remember My Forgotten Man,” which she also sang in the movie Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), although she was not listed in the credits. A conaltro vocalist, she was best known for her starring role in the 1942 revival of Porgy and Bess on Broadway.
Barnett was born November 5, 1901, in Weimar, Texas. She married Claude Barnett, founder of the Associated Negro Press, in 1934. In her later years, Barnett was active in many community organizations including the National Council of Negro Women, the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the African American Institute. She passed away from pancreatic cancer on January 5, 2004, at age 102.
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