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Lena Horne Forever

29 Jan

On Tuesday, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Lena Horne Forever stamp.

Lena Horne Forever2

The 41st issuance in the Black Heritage series honors the achievements of Lena Horne:

Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club and later became a featured vocalist with touring orchestras. The rampant racial discrimination she encountered from audiences, hotel and venue managers and others was so disconcerting that she stopped touring, and in 1941, she made her move to Hollywood. A year later, she signed a contract with MGM — one of the first long-term contracts with a major Hollywood studio — with the stipulation that she would never be asked to take stereotypical roles then available to black actors. Her most famous movie roles were in “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather,” both released in 1943.

During World War II, Horne entertained at camps for black servicemen, and after the war worked on behalf of Japanese Americans who were facing discriminatory housing policies. She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in pressing for anti-lynching legislation. In the 1960s, Horne continued her high-profile work for civil rights, performing at rallies in the South, supporting the work of the National Council for Negro Women, and participating in the 1963 March on Washington.

On Horne’s passing in 2010, President Barack Obama said:

Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen. From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home.

From sultry Selina Rogers in “Stormy Weather” …

… to sweet Georgia Brown in “Cabin in the Sky” …

… and Glinda, the Good Witch in “The Wiz,” the legendary performer entertained millions.

Horne’s activism and willingness to speak truth to power inspired millions, including the writer.

Lena Horne Collage2

The trailblazer and civil rights activist will be in the public’s memory forever.

Lena Horne Forever

The First Day of Issue Stamp Dedication Ceremony will be was held at Symphony Space in New York City. The Lena Horne Forever stamp is on sale nationwide at post offices and online at The Postal Store.

Merry Christmas

24 Dec

The Christmas season is hard on folks who are too broke to pay attention. But if you are a literary giant like Langston Hughes, your DIY Christmas cards end up on display at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Michael Morand, the Beinecke Library’s communications director, told Hyperallergic:

Langston Hughes’s extensive archives provide numerous insights into his long life and career. His 1950 typewritten Christmas postcards illuminate a period when his finances were limited though his friendships remained abundant. He wittily addressed his wide circle of friends that year with verse that tell how times were tough and still convey resilience and joy. Likewise, the 17 boxes in the archives of Christmas cards he received and kept over many decades demonstrate the breadth and depth of his personal and professional relationships with other cultural and civic leaders.

Langston Hughes - Broke and Busted2

Boycott Denver’s ink! Coffee

27 Nov

In cities across the country, gentrification is displacing African Americans. In the District of Columbia, for instance, a new study found that for the first time in nearly 60 years, the city’s black population dipped below 50 percent. Historically black neighborhoods are being transformed into “gilded ghettos” for white millennials.

At the same time, gentrification is erasing African American cultural heritage from public memory. In Philadelphia,
the Royal Theater, once considered “American’s Finest Colored Photoplay House,” has been reduced to a façade.

Royal Theater

To raise money to pay for the sins — and crimes — of its priests, the Archdiocese wants to sell St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, the Mother Church of Philadelphia’s black Catholics.

St. Peter Claver Catholic Church

The historic church is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. So prospective buyers should take note there will be hell to pay if they try to demolish the historic properties.

In Denver, gentrifiers are moving into Five Points, once known as the Harlem of the West. As gentrifiers move in, longtime African American residents are displaced. To rub salt in the wound, a local coffee chain, ink! Coffee, celebrates gentrifying the neighborhood.

Ink Coffee - Five Points

The chain’s founder, Keith Herbert, said it was a “joke.” Well, the joke is on him. The in-your-face sign of white privilege garnered negative headlines from coast-to-coast (herehere and here). In a Facebook post, Herbert apologized for the “joke”:

I have been following the comments on social media and listening to our customers, and I want you to know that I hear you. I have used the last 24 hours to listen to your perspectives, and to better educate myself on gentrification. I am embarrassed to say that I did not fully appreciate the very real and troubling issue of gentrification, and I want to sincerely apologize to those who understand firsthand the hardship and cultural consequences that gentrification has caused in the Five Points neighborhood, throughout the City and County of Denver and in communities throughout our state.

Hebert said he will “educate” himself about the issue. If he had not closed the Five Points location on Saturday, the hundreds of protesters would have schooled him that gentrification is no laughing matter to those who are pushed out.

Ink Coffee - Five Points - Protest

Community leaders and activists have called for a boycott of ink! If you have family or friends in the Denver area, please help spread the word: #DontDrinkInk.

Don't Drink Ink Collage2
I’m a coffee drinker but I would rather drink muddy water than a drop of the white privilege ink! is brewing.

UPDATE: The creative “genius” behind the ink! Coffee sandwich-board sign, Cultivator Advertising & Design, Inc., has taken its website offline.

Cultivator Advertising

Now that’s funny.

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