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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Singer Lena Horne dies at 92



Singer Lena Horne dies at 92 


So-called "black" civil right's activist Lena Horne, the enchanting jazz singer and actress who reviled the bigotry that allowed her to entertain white audiences but not socialize with them, slowing her rise to Broadway superstardom, died Sunday. She was 92. (The Associated Press)


Born on June 30, 1917, Lena Horne was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. She came to the attention of Hollywood in 1942 and was the first "black" woman to sign a meaningful long-term contract with a major studio, a contract that said she would never have to play a maid. 

Horne died at the age of 92 on May 9 at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.
(MGM)








Horne was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.[1] Reported to be descended from the John C. Calhoun family, both sides of her family were a mixture of African AmericanEuropean, and Native American descent. Each side belonged to what W. E. B. Du Bois called "The Talented Tenth," the upper stratum of middle-class, well-educated blacks.[2][3] She grew up in an upper-middle-class black community in the Hill District community of PittsburghPennsylvania.[4] 


Her father, Edwin "Teddy" Horne (died 1970),[5] a Haitian Creole & numbers kingpin in the gambling trade, left the family when she was three. Her mother, actress, Edna Scottron, daughter of inventor Samuel R. Scottron, was an actress with a black theater troupe and traveled extensively.
Horne was mainly raised by her grandparents, Cora Calhoun and Edwin Horne at 189 Chauncey Street in Brooklyn. Her uncle, Frank S. Horne, was an adviser to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the dean of students at Fort Valley Junior Industrial Institute in Fort Valley, Georgia. She attended Washington High School in Atlanta, where her grandmother convinced her to join the NAACP.[6] Horne also attended Girls High School, an all-girls public high school in Brooklyn, which has since become Boys and Girls High School, on Fulton Street; she dropped out without earning a diploma.



Civil Rights Activism

Horne also is noteworthy for her contributions to the Civil Rights movement. In 1941, she sang at Cafe Society and worked with Paul Robeson, a singer who also combated American racial discrimination. During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform "for segregated audiences or to groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen" , according to her Kennedy Center biography. She was at an NAACP rally with Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi the weekend before Evers was assassinated. She was at the March on Washington and spoke and performed in behalf of the NAACP, SNCC and the National Council for Negro Women. She also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws. 

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