16. “Don’t be afraid to be as angry or as loving as you can…” Lena Horne

“I recorded that section about the riots of ’92 one week before the May-June protests in 2020. Pandemic, economic collapse, police brutality… Three horsemen of the apocalypse are quite enough, thank you.”


That’s a quote from the novel I’m podcasting, you can listen at the end of post. Lena Horne’s quote is the chapter heading. Ms. Horne had plenty to be angry about. Her father took a powder when she was three. Her suffragette mother disapproved of her and left her in the care of her grandparents. She started performing at the Cotton Club in the early 1930s, and chafed against misogyny and racism all her life.

Once in Hollywood she was groomed for stardom at MGM and in mainstream films she was shunted off into scenes where she was portrayed as an entertainer, not even a secondary character, so the footage could be cut in the South without disrupting the plot. She didn’t act. She sang. It wasn’t until 1969 that she appeared in a dramatic role in which her race was inconsequential.

As for the love… She performed for the troops during WWII. She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to enact anti-lynching laws. She marched for civil rights in the 1960s.

Singer and wartime pin-up girl Lena Horne, in cockpit, poses with cadets at the Tuskegee Airbase in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1945. (AP Photo)

She was born in 1917, the same year the word activist entered our lexicon, thank god for the word and the woman.



ac·​tiv·​ist | \ ˈak-ti-vist
plural activists

Definition of activist

: one who advocates or practices activism : a person who uses or supports strong actions (such as public protests) in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue

(Thank you, Merriam Webster!)

Goodspeed by Rockwell Kent, 1931-1932, in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Take action, vote. Make it a landslide. From here until Tuesday either vote in person or put your mail-in ballot in an official election drop box. Vote, vote in numbers so big our voices will ring throughout history.

If you have questions check out I WILL VOTE.

Look out for one another, and thank you for setting us on course for the biggest voter turnout since 1908.

Here’s the short chapter I was talking about.


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