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As we celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday, sadly we report that we lost one yesterday as the legendary Lena Horne passed away at the age of 92.

According to a family spokesperson,  Lena Horne died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday night.

Ms. Horne, a renowned jazz singer and Hollywood actress was also a forerunner of the Civil Right movement as she was one of the first Black actress with a major Hollywood contract and fought through bigotry and racism.

In essence, Ms. Horne paved the way for the likes of Halle Berry, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys and so many others.

The stunning Lena once stated in an interview,

“I was unique in that I was a kind of Black that white people could accept.  I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked.”

According to The Associated Press, In the 1940s, she was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band, the first to play the Copacabana nightclub and among a handful with a Hollywood contract.

In 1943, MGM Studios loaned her to 20th Century-Fox to play the role of Selina Rogers in the all-black movie musical “Stormy Weather.” Her rendition of the title song became a major hit and her signature piece.

On screen, on records and in nightclubs and concert halls, Horne was at home vocally with a wide musical range, from blues and jazz to the sophistication of Rodgers and Hart in songs like “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.”

Always facing racism, Horne once stated,

“I was always battling the system to try to get to be with my people. Finally, I wouldn’t work for places that kept us out … it was a damn fight everywhere I was, every place I worked, in New York, in Hollywood, all over the world,” she said in Brian Lanker’s book “I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.”

While at MGM, she starred in the all-black “Cabin in the Sky,” in 1943, but in most of her other movies, she appeared only in musical numbers that could be cut in the racially insensitive South without affecting the story. These included “I Dood It,” a Red Skelton comedy, “Thousands Cheer” and “Swing Fever,” all in 1943; “Broadway Rhythm” in 1944; and “Ziegfeld Follies” in 1946.

“Metro’s cowardice deprived the musical of one of the great singing actresses,” film historian John Kobal wrote.

When Halle won her Oscar in 2002, Lena Horne was one of the people that she thanked for paving the way.

R.I.P. Ms. Horne and thanks for the courage, memories, and showing us the way.

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