Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne
By Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2017. Biography.

“You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way.” Lena Horne lived this statement. Growing up as a young member of the NAACP, taking on civil rights issues as she worked in the entertainment industry, she fought not only for herself but for those who would follow. Starting out in the chorus line to help feed her family during the Depression, she soon advanced and became one of the first black vocalists to front an all-white band. Even though she was the lead, she was banned from the bandstand between numbers and had to sleep on the bus because she was refused food and lodging with the rest of the band. But she didn’t let that stop her. Her good looks and powerful voice opened the doors to a Hollywood career, but she was forced to wear make up to darken her skin so she would not be mistaken as white while screen. When she performed for troops during WWII, she made a point to perform for black troops like the Tuskegee Airman, even paying for the cost to perform for them, so they were not denied entertainment like other soldiers. Because she fought for civil rights, she was blacklisted from Hollywood during the McCarthy Era, but she became an international star touring nightclubs around the world.

An inspiring picture book biography describing what determination can accomplish. The Author Note at the back tells how Lena Horn influenced the author and includes further recommended readings, listening, and viewings of Lena Horne.

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