H.R. 1815: Lena Horne Recognition Act

H.R. 1815

Lena Horne Recognition Act

Sponsor
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings

Date
April 16, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, April 16, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1815 the Lena Horne Recognition Act, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  The bill was introduced by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) on May 10, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Financial Services. 

Bill Summary

H.R. 1815 would direct the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate to make appropriate arrangements for the posthumous presentation, on behalf of Congress, of a gold medal of appropriate design in commemoration of Lena Horne in recognition of her achievements and contributions to American culture and the civil rights movement.

Background

According to the findings of the bill, Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born on June 30, 1917, in Brooklyn, New York.  In 1940, Lena Horne became one of the first African-American women to perform with an all-White band when she toured with Charlie Barnet's jazz band as its featured singer.  Lena Horne was discovered by a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) talent scout and became the first Black artist to sign a long-term contract with a major studio.

Despite her extraordinary beauty and talent, Lena Horne was often limited to minor acting roles because of her race.  However, Lena Horne dazzled audiences and critics in a number of films, including Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather.  During World War II, Lena Horne toured extensively with the United Service Organizations (USO) on the West Coast and in the South in support of the troops and expressed outrage about the way Black soldiers were treated.  She refused to sing for segregated audiences or to groups in which German prisoners of war were seated in front of African-American servicemen.

Lena Horne rose to international stardom and toured the world, sharing the stage with such names as Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Billy Eckstein, Vic Damone, and Harry Belafonte and also starred in musical and television specials with such giants as Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra.  Lena Horne used her fame to become a powerful voice for civil rights and equality.  In 1963, she participated in the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, at which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his immortal “I Have a Dream” speech.

Lena Horne passed away in New York City on May 9, 2010, at the age of 92.  Lena Horne was an entertainer, activist, and mother who used her beauty, talent, and intelligence to fight racial discrimination and injustice and rise to international stardom.

Cost

There was no Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate available for this bill.