keshaperry

Glinda, the Good Witch

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 at 9:12 am

“Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather…
Since my man and I ain’t together; keeps raining all the time.”

Lyrics from Lena Horne’s Stormy Weather (1943). Today, many of my friends ask if I have seen this movie or that, and I respond, shyly with a NO. Shock and surprise paralyze their faces. Well, I ask them if they’ve seen Carmen Jones, Cabin in the Sky, Imitation of Life, or Stormy Weather–then I smile, because those truly are classics to me. While celebrating Mother’s Day, the news came that Ms. Lena Horne passed away at 92. Representative Charles Rangel said of Horne, “She was classy. A civil rights activist. A stage star. A movie star. You name it, Lena Horne had it all. She will remain a standard of excellence in all of our hearts.”

Whether it was the Wiz, the Muppet Show, or Sesame Street, Lena Horne was a constant in my household. Growing up I did not question why there were “white” movies or “black” movies. Not until I was older and could comprehend racial history, particularly that of the South, Jim Crow reign supreme, even on the screen. Horne voiced her great displeasure with the role racism played in the entertainment industry. She did not leave it strictly to her profession. According to the National Park Service “during the anti-communist hearings in the U.S. Congress in the 1950s, Horne was among hundreds of entertainers blacklisted because of political views and social activism. In the 1960s, she performed in the South at rallies for civil rights, participated in the 1963 March on Washington, and supported the work of the National Council for Negro Women.”

Lena Horne was an entertainer, an activist, an icon; and her passing marks the end of an era. She was a superstar, and we all have benefitted from her work both on the film/stage and her work on the civil rights front.

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