The Lena Horne Recognition Act

Portrait of Lena Horne by William P. Gottlieb
Taken from the Library of Congress

Lena Horne entertained America and broke racial barriers as a singer, dancer, and actress for over 60 years.  She continuously fought against racial prejudice in film, television, and onstage, refusing to allow the color of her skin to stifle her dreams. During McCarthyism in the 1950s, her activism caused her to be blacklisted as a communist and, during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, she marched proudly on Washington and performed in numerous rallies.  She further promoted civil rights ideals through her work with organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Council of Negro Women, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the Urban League. Throughout her career, Lena Horne danced in the chorus of Harlem’s famous Cotton Club, became the first African American to tour with an all-white band, Charlie Barnet’s outfit, and signed a contract with MGM.  She also starred in musicals such as Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather, and The Wiz, in addition to numerous television specials and variety shows.  In 1981, Ms. Horne captivated audiences with her one-woman Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, for which she was awarded with a prestigious Tony Award.

Legislation awarding a Congressional Gold Medal requires 300 co-sponsors, making them very difficult to pass in the House of Representatives. The Lena Horne Recognition Act passed the House in 2012 with 308 co-sponsors and by a vote of 410-2. However, the Senate never acted and the bill failed to advance to the President’s desk.

Read a copy of the legislation here: http://bit.ly/2cznXvF