In a never-before-seen video from In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive, singer, dancer, actress and civil rights activist Lena Horne shares her disappointment in the lack of progress made toward racial equality throughout her lifetime.
Episode two of the American Masters Podcast features Lena Horne discussing the difficulties of navigating the 1940s and 1950s Hollywood studio system and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.
“Maybe it’s because I’m a black woman, but maybe because I’m a woman, I don’t see as much as I wanted. I don’t see it happening as much as it happened to us 10 years ago. I think it’s worsened and it’s like the French say, ‘the more we change, the more it stays the same.’ I’m hearing the same old stories and seeing the same old incidents I saw before 1960. And when Paul Robeson told me, ‘that’s alright, your grandchildren will see it better,’ he didn’t know I’d still have to wait. Now I’ve got a great grandson and wonder how long he’s going to have to wait.”
– Lena Horne, August 29, 1996, filmed for American Masters — Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice (1996).