Editors Note: I am humbled to join the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson in offering nothing but the highest of praise for the life and legacy of Lena Horne, who was a historic singer, actress, and activist. Her life and work meant so much not just for the advancement of Blacks and women in the entertainment industry but how she also used her celebrity status to help lift up the issues of the civil rights movement.
Those of us who are identified as part the next generation leadership in the civil rights movement must know how many of us stand on the shoulders of a Lena Horne, and how this current and next generation must know and use the foundation of Lena Horne to know that their advancement in new levels of entartainment are sustained by the strength of the organizations whose current and future entertainment industry challenges make the Halle Berry's and Beyonce's possible. I hope that the more the story of Lena Horne is told that a new generation of entertainers from the Black community remember to follow the example of Lena Horne, not just for her singing and acting, but her commitment to activism. (Mark S. Allen, Associate Editor of The South Street Journal Newspaper and Founder of The Black Leadership Develeopment Institute, BLDI, and former national staff member to The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
May 10, 2010
CHICAGO (May 10, 2010)--We are saddened by the passing of legendary singer and actress Lena Horne but excited about her contribution to changing the cultural landscape of America.
Like Esther of the Bible, she used her beauty and her courage to open doors and keep them open for others to come behind her.
She was the first African-American woman on so many stages and screens. She worked with the late Dorothy Height, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Harry Belafonte.
I recall the day when she performed at hotels that she could not stay in. I remember her vividly standing with Dr. King fighting for civil rights legislation and with the Council of Negro Women fighting for the dignity of African-American women.
It is poetic that she, the mother of change and hope, would make her transition on Mother's Day. She lived a long and meaningful life and I feel blessed to have known her.
I remember her and Tony Bennett doing a concert to help raise money for PUSH.
She made herself available to us and the community. She never stopped serving. Lena leaves life as the creditor; we are the debtor. To this trailblazer we owe much thanks.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366
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