“He said, ‘I have a list of things that you are charged with that has caused them to believe you are very unpatriotic.’ I asked him tell me what the list described me as being.”Sullivan read the list.“As a matter of fact, your list is way short of many of the things I have done and will continue to do,” Belafonte told Sullivan. Then Belafonte challenged Sullivan, asking the Irish American host to compare how the Irish rebellion against the British was considered “an act of nobility,” whereas the reaction to black Americans and “our resistance to the tyranny we’ve experienced” was quite different. in 1956 and became a major force in the civil rights movement.“I am not an artist who became an activist,” Belafonte said.
When the eager Mitchell attempted to prolong an analysis of Belafonte’s film career, Belafonte, who is 84, answered graciously but proved far more animated in turning the subject to his political work, speaking eloquently and in greatly informed complexity about racism, poverty and inequality across the globe.
“If you look at the history of my life, it’s all movement,” he said pensively. To revisit these places [during filming] where acts of dehumanization were in full bloom was extremely difficult.” , which opened this year’s Sundance Film Festival, provides moving archival footage of these harrowing events, and also that of his current activism in Haiti, inner-city Los Angeles, Iraq and more.
Kennedy for president and helped secure African-American voters, helped orchestrate the 1963 March on Washington and the global 1985 “We Are the World” fundraiser for African famine relief, and coordinated Nelson Mandela’s first visit to the United States.
Belafonte displayed this passion for social progress after the screening in a conversation with the film critic Elvis Mitchell.
She stepped into my life in a huge way because of our mutual sense of injustice in the world.”Belafonte’s pursuit of social change began as a youngster in Harlem watching his Caribbean family wrestling with issues of race and poverty.“There was a theme in our circle of never accepting oppression without resistance,” he said, singling out his mother, whom he described as “very feisty and very much against injustice.” After volunteering as a teenager for the U. Army during World War II, Belafonte and other black veterans expected to return to a “very generous America” because they had shown “great loyalty to this country, to the values of this country.” Instead, he said, "we came back to a very rigid set of racial lines that were being drawn.
The laws of segregation were being intensified.”Belafonte’s life changed when he went to see “Home Is the Hunter,” a drama about the problems of black veterans, at the American Negro Theater in Harlem. “I found something that so delighted me and attracted my attention. That ultimately led me to study theater.”While he was at the theater, he met the man who would be one of his greatest friends and influences: the blacklisted African American actor, activist and singer Paul Robeson.“We were quite overwhelmed by his presence,” Belafonte said.Celebrated throughout the world, his career has included wide-ranging accomplishment during the past half century.Best known as a singer of folk and popular music from around the world, Belafonte first found his love for music in the streets of Kingston in Jamaica.“I feel that what was done in the years of the Civil Rights movement, the sacrifices made by those students . When Harry Belafonte appeared in mob-controlled Las Vegas in the 1950s at the Thunderbird Hotel, he decided to challenge the racist system that prevented African American performers from staying at hotels on the Strip.“I walked into the lobby, going to the desk to register,” said Belafonte, 87. I said, ‘Well, I don’t think this is going to work.’”The manager turned Belafonte over to “the big boss.”“I said, ‘I’d just like to leave town quietly, and you go ahead do what you want to do with your rules,’” Belafonte said. Things changed.”This Saturday, the activist-actor-singer-songwriter will receive the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Governors Awards ceremony in Hollywood.Belafonte animatedly dissected his current work with incarcerated youths and the modern “criminalization of poverty” in America, as well as praised the uprising in Egypt and the current Occupy Wall Street protests for their nonviolence.“This constituency in Africa, parts of the Middle East, and here in the United States: we want the oppression to stop,” he said adamantly. really shaped a future for this country that we have momentarily lost.” Mitchell cocked his eyebrow. ” “I have to think it’s winnable,” said Belafonte gravely. I went into his office, and he said ‘The rules are you can’t stay here.’ I was absolutely taken aback.“He said to me, ‘The only way you are going to leave here without playing out that contract is in a box.’” Belafonte called his uncle in Harlem, who had connections to Alex “Shondor” Birns, the Cleveland mobster. Previous winners of the Hersholt award include Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Paul Newman and Audrey Hepburn.This information is shared with social media services, sponsorship, analytics and other third-party service providers. Known as the King of Calypso, Harry Belafonte of New York is an accomplished actor, singer, producer and international human rights activist.