It’s Black History Month, and the United States Postal Service has decided to mark the occasion by giving Lena Horne her own stamp.
Good move, USPS.
“Today, we honor the 70-year career of a true American legend,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman according to a press release by the postal service. “With this Forever stamp, the Postal Service celebrates a woman who used her platform as a renowned entertainer to become a prolific voice for civil rights advancement and gender equality.”
Horne’s daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley, was there for the unveiling of the stamp, along with photographer Christian Steiner and Amy Niles, who is the president and chief executive officer, WBGO Radio.
A lifetime of fighting discrimination
Born June 30, 1917, Horne started out dancing at the Cotton Club in Harlem before she started touring as a vocalist. But she saw so much discrimination on her tours that she ultimately decided to instead move to Hollywood, where she signed on with MGM Studios under the condition that they never offer her the stereotypical Black women roles.
She continued to become a voice for the voiceless, entertaining the troops during World War II and then speaking out on behalf of Japanese Americans who were being discriminated against. She fought for legislation against lynching and lent her voice to rallies during the Civil Rights movement, ultimately marching with others in 1963 in the famous March on Washington.
Horne’s legacy is as much one of music and performance as it is one of civil rights activism. She earned three Grammy Awards and one Tony award.
She also was honored with the NAACP Spingarn Medal and became a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 1984. Visitors to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site can also see her name among those listed on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.