As a feminine actor, singer and civil rights activist of the twentieth century, Lena Horne shattered glass ceilings for a dwelling. Now, she’s the primary Black lady in American historical past to have a Broadway theater named in her honor, according to CBS News.
“I didn’t realize how emotional it was gonna be, and now I’m kind of weeping buckets,” her granddaughter Jenny Lumet told People. “My grandma’s a Bed–Stuy girl, and we’re a New York family. So to have her always be in New York City in the theater district, it means everything.”
Many of Horne’s friends and people she influenced gathered on the former Mansfield Theatre (which was renamed the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in 1960) now bearing her title for the ceremony, together with New York Mayor Eric Adams, Gov. Kathy Hochul — who known as Horne a “fearless agent of change” — and actor Vanessa Williams.
“As gorgeous as she was, she was a woman of color,” mentioned Williams, per CBS News. “She still had discriminating circumstances, and roles weren’t given to her. I was at an event, and she was there, and I remember bursting into tears because she meant that much to me.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1917, Horne began singing at Harlem’s famend Cotton Club when she was 16, according to PBS. Her Broadway debut the next yr in “Dance With Your Gods” led to Hollywood — the place she signed a seven-year contract with MGM in 1942.
Horne was the primary Black American to have a serious film studio contract.
Williams mentioned Horne’s activism “came out of her experiences in life.” Horne discovered about Black American historical past and grew politically savvy whereas working at Café Society in 1941.
During World War II, Horne refused to carry out for segregated audiences, according to CBS News. In the Nineteen Fifties, she was blacklisted as an alleged communist sympathizer. Her FBI file was lively till the mid-Nineteen Seventies.
Horne marched in Washington, D.C., in 1963 and carried out throughout America for the National Council for Negro Women. She received Grammys, Emmys and Tony Awards, and an NAACP Image Award, earlier than dying of coronary heart failure at 92 years outdated in 2010.
Lumet, who adopted in her grandmother’s Hollywood footsteps, told CBS Morning that Tuesday’s unveiling was a “celebration of the contributions of Black women to theater history.” For these in attendance, there was little question about it.
“It’s all about legacy, making sure people know that she created a path for others to follow, that they don’t have to feel that they’re alone, that someone was there before and head of time,” added actor Wendell Pierce. “She had true courage.”