Frank Smith Horne was born in New York, New York, on August 18, 1899, to the private contractor and builder, Edwin Fletcher Horne, and to Cora Calhoun Horne. He was the third of four sons. Horne’s family was middle-class, and his parents were active, early members of the NAACP. He was an uncle to singer and actress Lena Horne. Horne earned a BS from City College of New York in 1921, and later graduated from the Northern Illinois College of Ophthalmology with the degree of doctor of optometry in 1923. He completed his education with an MA from USC in 1932.
Horne achieved modest success as a poet and published sporadically during his lifetime. In 1925, he won second place in the Amy Spingarn Literary Award contest for the poem “Letter Found Near a Suicide,” which was reprinted in Crisis magazine and in Alain Locke’s The New Negro (Albert and Charles Boni, 1925). Horne won additional awards from Opportunity magazine for poetry and prose. He wrote the poetry collection Haverstraw (Paul Bremen, 1963) in 1960, while hospitalized after a stroke that left him partially paralyzed on his right side.
Horne maintained private ophthalmology practices in Chicago and Harlem for several years in the 1920s. He then became dean and acting president of Fort Valley Normal and Industrial School in Fort Valley, Georgia (now, Fort Valley State College) from 1926–35. In the latter part of the 1930s, Horne embarked on a career in government administration. Mary McLeod Bethune invited Horne to work in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet.” As a result, Horne served in various positions in Negro Affairs and in housing agencies until 1955. He aided in the defense of colleague, Edward Rutledge, who was accused of being a Communist sympathizer. Hostility from the Republican National Committee and the Eisenhower Administration led to Horne being terminated from his position in the Housing and Home Finance Agency (HHFA). Horne moved back to New York City in 1956, where he was appointed executive director of the NYC Commission on Intergroup Relations by Mayor Robert Wagner. Horne then became a consultant in the human resources department on the Housing and Redevelopment Board, and co-wrote a ten-year plan to end housing discrimination. He was next appointed assistant administrator for equal opportunity in the Housing and Development Administration (HAD) by Mayor John Lindsay. Horne retired in 1972.
Frank Horne died on September 7, 1974.