Lena Horne Dies (1917 - 2010)

Lena Horne Dies (1917 - 2010)

Famed Lena Horne died yesterday at age 92. An iconic figure in Hollywood and on stage, Lena Horne was a pioneer who forced the film industry to evaluate casting African-American women in roles other than stereotypically safe and culturally preferred maids and 'mammies'. Blazing the trail in presegregration America, Ms. Horne used her intellect, talent and ambition to forge a career that spanned six-decades. Ms. Horne was an extremely talented and accomplished vocalist, and one of the first African-American actresses to sign a significant contract with a major studio. She continued to break barriers through her marriage to a Jewish conductor and bandleader Lennie Hayton in 1947. This was a bold move at a time when miscegenation laws were on the books in 30 states. "In the United States, the various state laws prohibited the marriage of whites and blacks, and in many states also the intermarriage of whites with Native Americans or Asians. In the U.S., such laws were known as anti-miscegenation laws. From 1913 until 1948, 30 out of the then 48 states enforced such laws. Miscegenation was finally ruled unconstitutional 12 June 1967 through the case Loving vs. the State of Virginia effectively ending legal enforcement of this practice nationwide.

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Exodus to Africa | Gordon Parks

The strength of Parks' work, resides in its perspicacity coupled with the power of the stories he tells through his photography. It is the reason why doors typically closed to African-Americans during the pre-Civil Rights era, were opened for him. These skills and talents allowed him to work for some of the most prestigious fashion magazines in America, at a time when most African-American photographers, journalist, and models were barred. Parks' association with the Civil Rights Movement, and in particular, the two photos of individuals associated with the Nation of Islam; Ethel Shariff, Daughter of Elijah Muhammad, and Malcolm X prompted this post.

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