Late last year, The Nederlander Organization honored the entertainment legend and civil rights activist Lena Horne by officially opening the Lena Horne Theater on Broadway.
The theater is the first to be named after a Black woman. Horne was also the first Black woman nominated for a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical. Located on 47th Street and the current host of the British hit musical Six, the formal dedication ceremony pulled no punches as it hosted a DJ, special performances, remarks, a red carpet, and the official unveiling of the new Lena Horne Theater.
More than 500 attendees present to witness this historical moment with some of the most notable guests being NY Governor Kathy Hochel, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Vanessa Williams, LaChanze, Tamara Tunie, Norm Lewis, Wendell Pierce, Horne’s granddaughter and great grand-children, the President and Vice-Chair of the NAACP, along with many others.
The electrified crowd was treated to special dedicated performances by Vanessa Williams, who sang one of Horne’s most famous songs, “Stormy Weather,” and LaChanze singing another hit “I’m Here” from The Color Purple. Young Black actresses from the Broadway show Tina, The Lion King, and The Piano Lesson were invited onto the stage as Tony Award-Winning actress Audra McDonald spoke about the monumental moment and its impact on future generations of Black women. Horne’s great-grandchildren, Jake Cannavale and Sasha Weinstein, attended the event.
Attendees gave touching remarks as they shared their stories and experiences with the late legend, which was entertaining, personal, and inspiring. James L. Nederlander, President of The Nederlander Organization, gave remarks at the event, speaking on Horne’s unique history with his father, James M. Nederlander. In 1981, his father played an integral role as one of the lead producers of Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which was performed at the Nederlander Theater. And Jenny Lumet, Horne’s granddaughter, tried to fight back the tears as she read a powerful letter from her mother regarding her grandmother and the monumental moment.
Vice Chair of the NAACP Board of Directors gave remarks on Lena Horne’s activism within the civil rights movement. With her grandmother being an early suffragette and civil rights activist, she had a significant influence on Horne’s life. Horne missed out on roles early in her career and was blacklisted in the 1950s due to her activism and political views. For example, when MGM pulled her off the tour, Horne financed her way to entertain the Black troops during World War II. These are just a few among the many inspiring actions that Lena Horne has made in her fight for civil rights, setting the stage for her being on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame and now having a Broadway Theater named after her.