Negroes Don’t Perform Classical Music

Purnell Steen

Purnell Steen of Denver, Colorado, became a professional musician despite education obstacles. He recalled, "I approached the Dean of the College of Music. He said, 'Negroes don't perform classical music.' I said, 'Well, my cousin Charles did." He swiveled his head around and said, 'We let him in, and there'll never be another.'" For more on classical music and integration, see Integrating A Major U.S. Symphony, the first-hand account of Steen's cousin, Charles Burrell.

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