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Public Statements

Lena Horne Recognition Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MEEKS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Today, I rise to speak in favor of H.R. 1815, the Lena Horne Recognition Act, introduced by my good friend and colleague from the great State of Florida, Congressman Alcee Hastings, to honor and posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal, one of our Nation's highest civilian awards, to the great Lena Horne.

Lena Horne is known to many as a uniquely talented performer who dazzled audiences on stage and on the silver screen. She was a symbol of elegance and grace; and she entertained people of all walks of life for over 60 years and broke barriers for future generations, winning numerous awards and accolades as a trailblazing African American female performer.

When I think of just yesterday that Major League Baseball, during that era, honored Jackie Robinson--a pioneer and professional baseball player--it's a breakthrough. But during that same period of time, Lena Horne was on the entertainment stage with such grace during a time when it was difficult for her as an African American to travel--places to stay, places to eat--but yet always with that elegance, with that grace, with her beauty, she would perform and entertain but stay true to herself, understanding that she was going to have a better tomorrow for those who followed in her path. She was a trailblazer, making it easier for people to follow.

If you think about the times that we had during that period, you had to be extra special. That's who she was. I can recall, even as my mother sat, she had to smile, because as soon as you said the name, my father would smile because of the beauty and the glory of Lena Horne. Anytime you heard Lena Horne on the radio, he would stop to listen to her voice. And when she was on television later, everything else in the house had to halt so that we could watch the elegant Lena Horne.

So when we think about the prejudice and discrimination that she had throughout her life but how she persevered and ultimately used her talent and fame to become a powerful voice for the civil rights movement and equality, it is for those reasons I congratulate my friend, Alcee Hastings, for bringing this bill forward.

Lena Horne lived in New York. In fact, a good friend of mine, a good personal friend of mine, lives in her old home now that's been landmarked and designated in Addisleigh Park, Queens, which is the heart of my district.

So, Mr. Speaker, today I call on my colleagues to join me in voting in favor of H.R. 1815, to award the elegant, the beautiful Lena Horne the Congressional Medal of Honor for her outstanding accomplishments and her contributions to American culture and society.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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