On Tuesday, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Lena Horne Forever stamp.
The 41st issuance in the Black Heritage series honors the legacy of Lena Horne:
Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club and later became a featured vocalist with touring orchestras. The rampant racial discrimination she encountered from audiences, hotel and venue managers and others was so disconcerting that she stopped touring, and in 1941, she made her move to Hollywood. A year later, she signed a contract with MGM — one of the first long-term contracts with a major Hollywood studio — with the stipulation that she would never be asked to take stereotypical roles then available to black actors. Her most famous movie roles were in “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather,” both released in 1943.
During World War II, Horne entertained at camps for black servicemen, and after the war worked on behalf of Japanese Americans who were facing discriminatory housing policies. She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in pressing for anti-lynching legislation. In the 1960s, Horne continued her high-profile work for civil rights, performing at rallies in the South, supporting the work of the National Council for Negro Women, and participating in the 1963 March on Washington.
On Horne’s passing in 2010, President Barack Obama said:
Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen. From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home.
From sultry Selina Rogers in “Stormy Weather” …
… to sweet Georgia Brown in “Cabin in the Sky” …
… and Glinda, the Good Witch in “The Wiz,” the legendary performer entertained millions.
Horne’s activism and willingness to speak truth to power inspired millions, including the writer.
The trailblazer and civil rights activist will be in the public’s memory forever.
The First Day of Issue Stamp Dedication Ceremony
will be was held at Symphony Space in New York City. The Lena Horne Forever stamp is on sale nationwide at post offices and online at The Postal Store.
It’s your birthday. It’s your birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As a lifelong activist, I celebrate you every day.
Still, I look forward to the annual smorgasbord of events. This year, I got the party started at the Riverside Church New York City where on April 4, 1967, Dr. King delivered his anti-war speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”
The tribute honoring Dr. King featured songs and readings from his writings and speeches.
One of the most moving moments was listening to an excerpt from Dr. King’s last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” While I’ve heard the speech numerous times, the sound system gave the words an immediacy and newness. Indeed, at times I was nodding my head and saying “Amen” as if I were in Mason Temple with Dr. King. An archived webcast of the program is available here.
I later checked out the Arthur Mitchell exhibition at Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery.
The assassination of Dr. King inspired the legendary ballet dancer to co-found the Dance Theater of Harlem. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Mitchell shared his greatest accomplishment:
That I actually bucked society, and an art form that was three, four hundred years old and brought black people into it.
Harlem’s ballet trailblazer was a great dancer who also served the community. The free exhibit runs through March 11. For more information, visit the Wallach Art Gallery.
On June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the month of June “Black Music Month.” Every president since then has recognized the contribution of black musicians to the nation’s cultural heritage. In 2009, President Barack Obama changed the month-long celebration to “African-American Music Appreciation Month.”
The tradition continues with President Donald Trump:
During June, we pay tribute to the contributions African Americans have made and continue to make to American music. The indelible legacy of these musicians who have witnessed our Nation’s greatest achievements, as well as its greatest injustices give all Americans a richer, deeper understanding of American culture. Their creativity has shaped every genre of music, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, hip hop, and rap.
We also take time this month to recognize the musical influence of two of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald, as this year marks their centennial birthdays. Gillespie, through his legendary trumpet sound and Fitzgerald, through her pure, energetic voice, treated people around the world to spirited and soulful jazz music. Their work has influenced countless musicians, and continues to inspire listeners young and old.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2017 as African-American Music Appreciation Month. I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and appreciation of African-American Music.
I kicked off this year’s celebration by attending opening night of Motown The Musical.
The multi-media musical recaps familiar stories about how Berry Gordy Jr. founded the Motown Record Company; Gordy’s affair with Diana Ross; self-destructive Florence Ballard; the tempting Temptations and their rivalry with the Four Tops; songwriter, singer and Motown lifer Smokey Robinson; child prodigy and history-maker Stevie Wonder; and the discovery of The Jackson 5. The Motown breakups include Mary “My Guy” Wells, Marvin Gaye, songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland, and Diana Ross and the Supremes.
The audience went nuts when Martha Reeves and the Vandellas gave “Philadelphia, PA” a shout-out in “Dancing in the Streets.” Although one knows how the stories end, the retelling is fresh and joyous. The musical culminates with a “family” reunion to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Motown.
I remember like it was yesterday watching the television special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. In 1983, I sang the songs at the top of my lungs, danced in front of the TV, and marveled as Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk. At the Academy of Music, I danced in my seat and tried not to sing too loud.
But it wasn’t just the songs and dancing that kept a smile on my face. I love that the music is contextualized. Motown addresses racial segregation in the South and the North, the senseless war in Vietnam, the March on Washington, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Black Power Movement. By the 1970s, the “Motown Sound” was the sound of the struggle for racial justice.
Motown The Musical is playing at the Academy of Music through June 11. For ticket information, visit kimmelcenter.org.
As an advocate for social justice, I celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. every day. On the official observance of his special day, I will join thousands for a ceremonial tapping of the Liberty Bell in his honor.
Afterwards, I’ll join the March for a Better America.
The march will begin at the slave quarters on Independence Mall and conclude at Mother Bethel AME Church, where POWER: An Interfaith Movement will unveil their 21st Century Declaration of Rights. They will call on elected officials, community leaders and ordinary citizens to support human rights. It sounds like a party for a drum major for justice.
Happy birthday, Dr. King.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on this day in 1929. His legacy lives on in folks like the activists who will take to the streets on Monday and #ReclaimMLK Day.
Posted at 08:39 AM in 2015 Election, Accountability, Black Voters, Civic Engagement, Civil Rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Education, Election '15, Ferguson, Jazz, March on Washington, Music, Race, School District of Philadelphia, Social Media | Permalink
Tags: #ReclaimMLK #ReclaimMLKPHL #BlackLivesMatter #EndStopandFrisk #CivicEngagement #ServiceinAction