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House Passes Rep. Clarke’s Resolution Honoring Lena Horne

Today, with a vote of 405 to 1, the House of Representatives passed H.Res. 1362, a resolution “Celebrating the Life and Achievements of Lena Mary Calhoun Horne,” introduced by Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke. Rep. Clarke released the following statement:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.Res.1362, Celebrating the Life and Achievements of Lena Mary Calhoun Horne.

“I want to first thank my friend, mentor, and co-author, Chairman John Conyers, Jr. for working with me to craft this resolution and for bringing it to the floor for a vote.

“I am here today to pay tribute to one of Brooklyn’s most treasured gifts to American arts, culture, and civil society. On May 9, 2010, Hollywood actress, jazz singer, and civil rights activist Lena Horne passed away at the age of 92.

“Ms. Horne was a trail-blazing performing artist whose life exemplified her commitment to social justice, peace, and civil rights. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Ms. Horne made her debut performance in the famous Cotton Club in Harlem at the age of 16, propelling her into a thriving career that took her from Broadway to Hollywood.

“A major contributor to the arts, Ms. Horne’s legacy as a Broadway star, movie star, and Grammy-award winning recording artist will never be forgotten. Her long career was punctuated by a number of notable firsts and industry accolades. She was the first African American woman to perform with a white band ensemble, the first black performer to play the Copacabana nightclub, and among the first African Americans to sign a long-term Hollywood film studio contract. Industry recognized her talents with four Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Tony Award, and a Kennedy Center Honor.

“A member of the NAACP since the age of two, Ms. Horne was an avid supporter of the civil rights movement. She participated in numerous civil rights rallies and demonstrations, including the March on Washington in August 1963. Joining Eleanor Roosevelt, Ms. Horne worked to pass anti-lynching legislation.

“A major supporter of the troops, during World War II, Ms. Horne initially toured with the USO performers. After criticizing the treatment of African American troops, Ms. Horne refused to perform for a segregated military audience. When her studio pulled Horne off the tour as a response to her act of defiance, she ultimately used her own money to finance trips to perform at Army camps. I admire her dedication to honoring our troops.

“Ms. Horne left behind a legacy that has forever changed the opportunities available for female African-American performers. But even more important, Ms. Horne is a role model for young women of every race who are brave enough to follow their dreams or speak out against injustice.”