Statement by the President on the Passing of Lena Horne
Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lena Horne – one of our nation’s most cherished entertainers. Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen. From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home. Michelle and I offer our condolences to all those who knew and loved Lena , and we join all Americans in appreciating the joy she brought to our lives and the progress she forged for our country.
Two things come to mind when reading the President's statement. The first is the use of the word "passing", which is the more respectful term for death often used in the black community.
The second is the obvious: The nation's first black President mourns the passage of a woman who broke many color barriers. How far we have come as a nation from the time when Lena Horne became the first black movie star—and yet could not be seen in many movie theaters or even sleep in the hotels where she sang.