May 13th, 2010
By Courtney Young, for the Ms. Magazine blog
… One of Lena Horne’s most significant contributions was her fierce activism and passion for civil rights. A friend of fellow entertainers/activists such as Paul Robeson, Horne was blacklisted for seven years in the 1950s because of her insistence on “rocking the boat” over issues of race in Hollywood and beyond. Horne was also vocal on the colorism that, in part, informed her success and made her palpable and marketable to white audiences (and some Black ones). Max Factor developed an “Egyptian” makeup for her at the beginning of her career, and at one point MGM tried to sell her as a Latina or an “exotic”–but she would assume no other identity than that of a Black woman. As she candidly said,
I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance, because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked.
Read more about this amazing entertainer here:
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