Lena Horne

by ethnic on May 11, 2010

Birth Name: Lena Mary Calhoun Horne

Date of Birth: June 30, 1917

Place of Birth: Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.

Date of Death: May 9, 2010

Place of Death: Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.

Ethnicity: African-American, some English

Lena Horne was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist.

Lena was the daughter of Edna Louise (Scottron) and Edwin Fletcher Horne. Her parents were both black. She also had English ancestry. She is sometimes stated to have had Native American roots. It is not clear if this Native American ancestry has been verified/documented.

Lena was married to musician, composer, conductor, and arranger Lennie Hayton, until his death. She had two children, Edwin and journalist Gail Lumet Buckley, with her former husband, Louis Jordan Jones. She is the grandmother of actress and screenwriter Jenny Lumet.

Lena’s paternal grandfather was named Edwin Fletcher Horne, Sr. (the son of Edwin F. Horne and Elizabeth). Lena’s grandfather Edwin was born in Tennessee, New Mexico, or Indiana.

Lena’s paternal grandmother was Cora Catherine Calhoun (the daughter of Moses Calhoun and Atlanta Mary Fernanda/Fernando). Cora was born in Georgia. Moses was the son of Nellie Reynolds. Atlanta was born in Georgia, the daughter of Arkansas Fernanda and Charlotte.

Lena’s maternal grandfather was Cyrus L. Scottron (the son of Samuel Raymond Scottron/Scrotton and Anna Maria Willet). Cyrus was born in Georgia. Samuel was a noted inventor, and was the son of Samuel J. Scottron and Jane M.

Lena’s maternal grandmother was Louise Ashton Logan (the daughter of Joshua Logan and Amelia Louise Ashton). Lena’s grandmother Louise was born in New York.

Sources: http://www.lena-horne.com

Genealogies of Lena Horne – http://www.geni.com

Lena’s father on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
Lena’s father on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Profile by Fuzzybear

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew January 27, 2017 at 6:10 pm


She also had some Scottish, Irish and Northern Irish ancestry

Atlanta Mary Fernanda was said to be of Louisiana Creole background (source: Notable Black American Women, by Jessie Carney Smith).

follers January 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Googling “Andrew Bonaparte Calhoun”, most articles simply state that he owned Horne’s great-grandfather, not that he was his biological father.

andrew January 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm

According to Lena’s daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley, from the book “The Black Calhouns”:

“The 1850 Slave schedule (slave census) for A.B. Calhoun listed Moses (Lena’s ancestor) as a twenty-years-old man_ and M for Mualatto. A.B. Calhoun may well have been a father figure for Moses. Like many Southern slave families, the black Calhoun were interwined with the white Calhouns”. She also wrote that Moses father may well have been Judge William Ezzard, three-time major of Atlanta.

andrew June 12, 2016 at 4:47 pm
Justinian October 30, 2015 at 2:00 am

15% black, she could’ve passed as white.

xoxo October 29, 2015 at 6:36 am

I’m sorry but Lena was ugly to me. She had a bird-like appearance.

cwm85 October 29, 2015 at 8:57 am

If she is ugly to you I guess you look like honey boo boo’s mom.

xoxo October 29, 2015 at 9:02 am

LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nice try, asshole. I’m not even white (half, but I still consider myself a person of color). Fuck off, troll.

Princess June 14, 2014 at 1:57 am

Light, bright, and damn near White.

Kekit October 17, 2015 at 3:27 am

she was actually encouraged (I believe) to pass for white but she refused

AllPeople January 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm

The ETHNIC group currently that is referred to by the
media-supported misnomer of ‘African-American’
(AA) IS NOT the same group as the RACIAL
group known as ‘Black American’ (BA).
— AllPeople (AP) G.i.f.t.s.
soaptalk AT hotmail DOT com
Founder and Moderator of the following
online Lineage-Discussion Communities

midori29 June 16, 2018 at 1:46 pm

@All people. African American and black American are the same. No difference. African American is just another term for black American but both are interchangeable. Both mean Americans of color with significantly overwhelming subsaharan black African dna, heritage, roots. Usually 50 percent or more.

AllPeople January 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm
midori29 June 16, 2018 at 1:51 pm

@All people Lena Horne described herself as black or African American and not mullatto. She didn’t have a white parent. Both her parents were African Americans or black Negros. Same thing. American does not have a mullatto category. America experimented briefly with another category but since ALL 99 percent of African Americans both dark and light have white ancestry a mullatto category would not make sense. Lena Horne was proudly black and she stood up for black right. Are you Dominican or Brazilian????? Because you’re incorrect.

midori29 June 16, 2018 at 1:54 pm

@All people you can post as many links as you want but technically ALL black Americans and Black Carribeans are multigenerationally mixed from slavery 200 years ago. It’s very uninformed and uneducated of you to think there is a difference solely based upon skin tone. And there are Millions of light skinned blacks without European DNA.

MariGarcia April 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Ms. Lena Horne was black because at least one of her parents were black. You foreigners need to stay off post using the one drop rule(later law) to defend your dark skin because it simply does not apply if you ACTUALLY look black. Though light skinned and beautiful, Ms. Horne would NEVER pass as a white woman by skin color nor hair texture and so this is not a case of the one drop rule. The one drop rule is for people who look COMPLETELY white but have 1/16 black blood aka 1drop of black blood going back 16 generations on either side. It was meant to stop Negros and Negro Lovers from owning land, getting rights and keeping them opressed. Most hispanics (PR,DR, SA,NA, WI, Caribbean) have at least one black grand/greatgrand parent so let’s cut the ISH. The one drop rule never applied if you were tan, toasted, bronzed or exotic but only Completely white but had a black Ancestor back as far as 16 generations on either side. So all you Blatinos stay off post pointing out your 2 or 3 Spainard features and trying to prove you aren’t black. The very fact that you are trying is proof positive. I should know so don’t get mad at me or Zoe Saldana for telling the truth.

Md April 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I’m confused. Clearly ms. Lena Horne is mixed and part of this website is learning about ALL aspects of a persons ethnicity. That means regardless of the fact that Lena Horne is an African American woman racially… Ethnically she clearly has more than west African ancestors. I know because I have west African friends that look NoThIng like her. They are the true definition of black. The one drop rule is a made up classification system used in USA to keep a many people of African descent in the “black” category. It was not a law for people thr looked white- you make no sense. That means you could be blonde, blue eye or whatever, but if you had 1 ancestor that was black then that’s what you were classified as. This was a way to originally keep the slave population well stocked. In Latin America and the Caribbean people mixed just the same like jn America, there was definitely a racial caste system HOWEVER they acknowledged mix people as being mixed and they had specific terms for them. This allowed for people to be recognized as what they truly are. This never happened in America. So one person in brazil would be recognized as a mulatto and can claim true multiracial heritage yet if that same person were in America they would be called black. I think it’s rude to not allow people to claim their heritage and it’s rude to categorize people based on YOUR beliefs even though they ate not you.

Anya April 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I actually just finished reading a Lens Horne biography recently…and I also read a book by her daughter Gail Lumet (may be wrong spelling) about the Horne family. Lena’s grandfather was actually half white half NA. He had no AA at all but chose to identify as AA. A very interesting family.

Anya April 21, 2012 at 7:45 am

Specifically; Lena was 5/16 White, 5/16 Black and 6/16 NA…so roughly a third each of black, white and NA.

Anya April 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I meant to add; Her Dad was 1/2 White, 1/4 NA and 1/4 Black (one of his parents was 1/2 NA 1/2 White and the other 1/2 Black 1/2 White). Her Mom was 1/2 NA and 1/2 Afro-Portuguese. Very special mix.

I love you, Roger Scientist March 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Put a picture up!

Midnight July 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Hey, Lena was a Creole that chose to only acknowledge her African Heritage because she felt it was important for people to know she was Black and to love her as a Black. She sw the struggles and even went through some when she could have easily passed for Hispanic or White because she loved her Black heritage. (Not that sh didn’t love the rest but she felt that the Black part of her needed a strong fighter.)

Total23 May 14, 2010 at 10:30 am

“Lena Horne’s parents were both very light in color and came from black upper-middle-class families in Brooklyn (Horne and Schickel, 1965; Buckley, 1986). Lena lived with her father’s parents until she was about seven years old. Her grandfather was very light and blue-eyed. Her fair-skinned grandmother was the daughter of a slave woman and her white owner, from the family of John C. Calhoun, well-known defender of slavery. One of her father’s great-grandmothers was a Blackfoot Indian, to whom Lena Horne has attributed her somewhat coppery skin color. One of her mother’s grandmothers was a French-speaking black woman from Senegal and never a slave. Her mother’s father was a “Portuguese Negro,” and two women in his family had passed as white and become entertainers.”

The Seventh Paragraph:

fuzzybear44 June 13, 2016 at 12:00 am

I wonder who the women that pass as white were

ethnic May 11, 2010 at 10:17 pm

RIP Lena

total23 May 11, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Beautiful Woman!

May You Rest In Peace!

Previous post:

Next post: