(Extensions of Remarks - February 14, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E145-E146]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                         HON. ALCEE L. HASTINGS

                               of florida

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, February 14, 2013

  Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to reintroduce the 
Lena Horne Recognition Act. This bill would award Lena Horne with a 
Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her achievements and 
contributions to American culture and the Civil Rights Movement. A 
symbol of elegance and grace, Lena

[[Page E146]]

Horne created a legacy by not only entertaining Americans for over 60 
years, but by breaking many racial barriers as a singer, dancer, and 
actress. Ms. Horne passed away in New York City on May 9, 2010 at the 
age of 92.
  Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born on June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, New 
York. Her path to international stardom began in Harlem's Cotton Club, 
where she was first hired as a chorus dancer at the age of 16. From 
there, her career continued in Charlie Barney's jazz band, where she 
became one of the first African-American women to tour with an all 
white band, to Hollywood and Broadway.
  In the 1940s, Ms. Horne was discovered by a Metro Gold Mayer talent 
scout and moved to Hollywood to be an actress. She was the first black 
artist to sign a long-term contract with a major studio. Despite her 
beauty and talent, however, she was limited to minor acting roles 
because of her race. She was passed over for the role of Julie in the 
movie Show Boat because the studio did not want the film to star a 
black actress, and the Motion Picture Code did not allow the depiction 
of interracial relationships. Nonetheless, she dazzled audiences and 
critics in a number of films, including Cabin in the Sky and Stormy 
  The struggle for equal and fair treatment was an inseparable and 
increasingly political part of Ms. Horne's life. During WWII, she 
toured extensively with the United Service Organizations on the West 
Coast and in the South in support of the troops. Ms. Horne was 
outspoken in her criticism of the way black soldiers were treated. She 
refused to sing for segregated audiences or to groups where German 
prisoners of war were seated in front of the African-American 
  During the period of McCarthyism in the 1950s, Ms. Horne was 
blacklisted as a communist for seven years due to her civil rights 
activism and her friendships with Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois. 
Despite facing continued discrimination, Ms. Horne's career flourished 
in television and onstage throughout the country. It was during this 
time that she also established herself as a major recording artist. In 
1957, she recorded Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria, which reached the 
Top 10 and became the best selling album by a female singer in RCA 
Victor's history.
  Ms. Horne used her talent and fame to become a powerful voice for 
civil rights and equality. In 1963, she participated in the historic 
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. She also performed at rallies 
throughout the country for the National Council for Negro Women and 
worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored 
People (NAACP).
  Ms. Horne finally received the break she had been waiting for her in 
1981, which was a one woman Broadway show. Lena Horne: The Lady and Her 
Music, was the culmination of her triumphs and struggles. The show 
enjoyed a 14-month run and earned her a Tony Award and two Grammy 
  Furthermore, she received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for 
her work in both motion pictures and recordings, as well as a footprint 
on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther 
King, Jr. National Historic Site.
  Mr. Speaker, Lena Horne was an extraordinary woman who refused to 
give up her dreams and used her beauty, talent, and intelligence to 
fight racial discrimination. I urge my colleagues to support the Lena 
Horne recognition Act, in order to honor her life and legacy with a 
Congressional Gold Medal.