Her Students Became Famous Because Of Her Support

Emma Hackley
Shonda Buchanan
December 20, 2020

Emma Hackley raised her voice over her pupils’, showing them how to hit the soprano note like a lark. Gently, but firmly, she drilled them – because she had a higher cause.

She knew each student had a role to play in fighting white society’s oppression through the simple act of singing. Why was she so determined?

All her life, whites either thought Emma Azalia Hackley was one of them – or encouraged her to “pass” so she could benefit from white privilege. But she adamantly refused! 

She was determined to succeed for herself and her students despite white society wanting her to assimilate. She and her husband even co-founded an organization, the Imperial Order of Libyans, to promote racial pride.

When Hackley stood backstage and heard her students’ strong, brave voices – and then the resounding applause – she felt vindicated.  

Through teaching a new generation of singers and musicians, she fought stereotypes that haunted and plagued her own career. Was her sacrifice worth it?

Yes! One of her favorite students, Marian Anderson, demonstrated every value Hackley taught – and went on to international, segregation-breaking fame.

If we’re determined to overcome any obstacles and use our art to promote racial pride, then we can determine our own fate – as well as train the next generation to take up the fight!

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