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Free To Be Herself: Rest in Peace, Soror Horne

"I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a ‘credit.’ I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else."

- Lena Horne at age 80

I was so sorry to hear of Lena Horne's passing this morning. But I had to smile, too, when I thought of her life and all that she'd accomplished. Despite all the obstacles and sleights, the degradations and denigrations, she still came out on top, with her dignity and pride intact.

Oh, what an example she was for all of us black women! We are all as free as we choose to be. Like Ms. Horne, we are each unique and there's not another one like each of us.

I remember in college one of my friends used to play Ms. Horne's version of "Be A Lion" from the Broadway musical"The Wiz" before she'd take her finals. She said it, and Ms. Horne, inspired her to greater things, inspired her to believe that she could overcome obstacles, including finals for a pre-med. She's a successful doctor now.

As for me, I took pride in the fact that Ms. Horne accepted membership in our sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, one of the nation's oldest black public service sororities, with a seriousness and dedication one would not expect from an honorary member. She didn't tout membership in DST as just yet another accolade; she wore it, extolled it, perfected it, and leveraged it on behalf of the good of others. She was a far better soror than I could ever hope to be.

Losing Dorothy Height and Lena Horne within the same month is a lot to bear. But to borrow from my own mother's verbiage, if I just "do like they did," I'm going to be alright. More than alright, come to think of it.

Rest in Peace, Soror Horne.

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