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Hollywood Pioneer Lena Horne Talks Racial Inequality In Decades-Old Interview

The actress shares her disappointment in the lack of progress made toward racial equality throughout her lifetime.

Lena Horne

Courtesy of PBS/MGM

Episode two of PBS’ “American Masters Podcast” features American singer, dancer, actress and civil rights activist Lena Horne as she discusses the difficulties of navigating the 1940s and 1950s Hollywood studio system and her involvement in the civil rights movement.

In the 30-minute podcast, Horne also recollects the times she spent with Count Basie, Medgar Evers, Billy Strayhorn and others.

READ MORE: Interview: Salli Richardson-Whitfield Talks Playing Lena Horne In ‘A Lady Must Live’ + Kickstarter Campaign To Finance

Then in a never-before-seen video from “In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive,” the legend shares her disappointment in the lack of progress made toward racial equality throughout her lifetime.

“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,” Lena says in an interview released on August 29, 1996. “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.”

New episodes of the “American Masters Podcast” are available biweekly on the “In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive” websiteiTunesSoundcloud and Stitcher.

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