- Harry Belafontelegendary musician, actor and activist. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Belafonte grew up on the streets of Harlem and Jamaica. In the 1950s, he spearheaded the calypso craze and became the first artist in recording history with a million-selling album. Along with his rise to worldwide stardom, Belafonte became deeply involved in the civil rights movement and was one of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest confidants.
On Monday night, legendary musician, actor and activist Harry Belafonte addressed more than 2,000 people who had gathered to celebrate Democracy Now!'s 20th anniversary at New York City's historic Riverside Church—the same location where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came out against the Vietnam War in 1967. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Belafonte grew up on the streets of Harlem and Jamaica. In the 1950s, he spearheaded the calypso craze and became the first artist in recording history with a million-selling album. Along with his rise to worldwide stardom, Belafonte became deeply involved in the civil rights movement and was one of Dr. King’s closest confidants. Belafonte spoke about Donald Trump’s election.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to the legendary musician and actor Harry Belafonte, who was also speaking at Democracy Now!'s 20th anniversary celebration. For more than half a century, Belafonte has been deeply involved in the fight for social justice. One of Dr. Martin Luther King's closest confidants, he held organize the March on Washington in 1963. Harry Belafonte spoke last night at Riverside Church, the same location where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King came out against the Vietnam War a year before his death. In 1967, he spoke.
HARRY BELAFONTE: In a few weeks from now, if there is a platform on which I will be privileged to stand and speak, my opening remarks will probably be something like “Welcome to the Fourth Reich.” I was talking with a comrade recently. He was a victim of the Third Reich. He was a victim of the great Holocaust and what happened to the Jewish people during the reign of Hitler. And all my life I have committed myself to making sure that here, this country, not for the want of effort, but I and so many others would be forever committed to the idea that America will remain an open and a free and a democratic society. With each cycle, those thoughts become a bit dimmed. Now, I think, more than ever, we are in need of Democracy Now!
I’m just at the threshold of my 90th year, and I had often—who said that? I never thought I’d live this long, but to be able to share an evening with Danny Glover, and certainly with Noam Chomsky, for whom I have great affection and deep respect, that I can kind of dance out of here feeling like, well, I did it all. But, in a way, each time it was done, we kind of figured it was the last time we would have to do it. During a lifetime of Paul Robeson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, those who mentored me and guided me and inspired me, that I should have lived long enough to be able to stand here and once again say thanks to all my colleagues, to all of my comrades, to all of the people who have sacrificed so greatly to make this nation whole—we are looking upon a curious time. But I think it’s a time that should be used as an opportunity to know that we have to make a much bigger difference than we’ve made up to now. We should not let the current state of affairs dull the fact that all that we have done was worthless. Nothing could be further from the truth.