Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010)

Lena Horne
and My Mom

Yesterday was Mother's Day and I am still reflecting on my mom.

My mother is a classy lady. People always see her as beautifully timeless and dignified. My mom was a sharp dresser when she was younger and when I was a child, she walked so tall that I always thought of her as a tall woman. It wasn't until I got older that I realized my mother wasn't tall at all. She merely created this illusion because she was proud and elegant at a time when not everyone was proud to be a "negro".

Maybe that's why Lena Horne was always her favorite star. My mom would talk about Lena Horne in the same way that the others talked about her. It was obvious to me that my mom saw Lena Horne as a strong African-American woman, always a shining beacon of racial pride and elegance.

Surely my mom didn't have to be so proud of being "black" since she has that cafe au lait creole complexion and is in fact, creole. Maybe that's one of the reasons why my mom loved Lena Horne so much. If you saw Lena Horne dancing up a storm in Stormy Weather, the 1943 all-Black cast musical, you had no doubts that she had Africa in those hips. When she sang..."Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky...stormy weather, since my man and I aint together" knew that despite her creole features, she was as Black as any other Black woman singing the blues.

Like so many other pioneers and prominent African-American barrier-breakers, I'm sure she endured countless heartbreaking moments, documented or not.

Lena Horne, African-American grand diva.