Rosemary Sanders in a 1938 holiday card. Sanders was the first African American member of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra.

“The number of African Americans in American Symphony Orchestras continues to be dismal,” writes Marvin Curtis, a board member of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, in Friday’s (2/10) South Bend Tribune (Indiana). “A select few were able to break the color barrier … The South Bend Symphony Orchestra’s first African American member was Rosemary Sanders, who auditioned and was admitted in 1940…. Sanders studied privately with George Zigmont Gaskas, concertmaster of the South Bend Symphony and later founder and conductor of the Elkhart Symphony…. She played in the Symphony Orchestra for 20 years, sitting in the last row of the second violin section. But her name was never listed in any programs…. She passed in 2017 at age 95…. According to the League of American Orchestras, African Americans account for only 1.8 percent of the nation’s orchestra players in 2014, and that figure had not grown … The South Bend Symphony Orchestra is celebrating Rosemary Sanders this year in their 90th anniversary program book…. How nice it would have been if Sanders had been acknowledged during her lifetime … The South Bend Symphony Orchestra is making sure that Rosemary Sanders will no longer be invisible, but celebrated for her talent and perseverance.”