Etta Moten Barnett blazed a trail for black women in entertainment, changing the perception of how her race and gender were seen on-screen and stage.
In 1934, based on her talents on stage and screen, Barnett was invited by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sing at his birthday party at the White House. That same year, Barnett married Claude Barnett, the founder and owner of the American Negro Press.
Alongside her husband, she traveled as part of a U.S. delegation to Ghana, and was also a cultural representative of the states at independence ceremonies across Africa. After her husband’s death in 1967, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority involved her in a variety of civic organizations.
In 1979, Barnett was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. In 2001, during her 100th birthday celebration, Halle Berry presented Barnett with an award during the Chicago International Film Festival’s tribute “Black Women in Film – From Etta to Halle.”
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