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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.

Public Art Matters in Stone Mountain

18 Dec

I lived in Atlanta-DeKalb County for three years. Although Stone Mountain is in DeKalb County, I never went there. For most of the 20th century Stone Mountain was effectively a “sundown town” which African Americans entered at their own risk.

Sundown Towns

Stone Mountain, the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan, was called out by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “I Have A Dream” speech. The city is home to the country’s largest Confederate monument.

Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial

In the wake of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, cities across the country have removed Confederate monuments. However, Stone Mountain, which is now overwhelmingly black, can’t touch the symbol of hate and white supremacy. The reason: In 2001, the Republican-controlled legislature passed Ga. Code § 50-30-1.

Stone Mountain - Georgia Statue

The United Daughters of the Confederacy used public art to propagate the “Lost Cause” mythology and romanticize the Confederate generals who tried to destroy the Union. The false narrative is believed by alleged child molester and sore loser Roy Moore who longs for the good old days when his ancestors could buy my ancestors:

I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another…. Our families were strong, our country had a direction.

This short documentary by Field of Vision shows how fake news was embedded in white Southerners’ psyche.

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