"In May 1963, as civil rights demonstrations rocked the city of Birmingham,
Alabama, Harry Belafonte was at a cocktail party in Manhattan, scolding the
then-attorney general of the United States.
“You may think you’re doing enough,” he recalled telling Robert F. Kennedy,
“but you don’t live with us, you don’t even visit our pain.”
Belafonte had many frank and heated conversations with Kennedy. In fact, the
singer, actor and activist was on intimate terms with many pivotal figures of
the civil rights era.
He was a confidant and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr and allied with Ahmed
Sékou Touré, the president of Guinea. He funded the grassroots activists of the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as it battled Jim Crow, and he
brought a delegation of Hollywood stars to the March on Washington. Along with
his best friend and sometimes-rival, actor Sidney Poitier, Belafonte delivered
funds to civil rights volunteers in Greenwood, Mississippi, while the Ku Klux
Klan watched their every move.
Belafonte, who died on April 25, 2023, at the age of 96, was a unique figure in
the history of the Black freedom struggle in the U.S. No other entertainer
immersed themselves so deeply in the Civil Rights Movement; no other activist
occupied a niche at so many levels of American politics. If he was a powerful
voice for justice, it was because he leveraged his celebrity."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics