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Author Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS WARRIOR - Harry Belafonte  (Read 78 times)
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« on: June 23, 2008, 10:35:55 pm »

Since the 50s, Belafonte has used his celebrity status to aid the civil rights movement, influence the Kennedys, raise millions for Africa and support the anti-apartheid movement. The turning point was a meeting with Martin Luther King in 1953. Belafonte was already politically aware, his anger stirred by the way blacks were treated after they had fought for democracy in the war against Hitler. Then King, a relatively unknown preacher at the time, sought his aid. "We talked for four hours - it was a life-changing moment. From then on, I was in his service and in his world of planning, strategy and thinking. We became very close immediately."

Belafonte gave generously to the civil rights movement and enlisted the support of Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, James Garner and other Hollywood stars. But, despite turning up at rallies with a legendary bag full of cash, he was far more than a political sugar daddy. The authoritative history of the movement by Taylor Branch has more than 100 references to Belafonte's role as a key adviser to King and a bridge to prominent white politicians, especially the Kennedys.

In 1959, Jack Kennedy arrived on his New York doorstep. The young senator from Massachusetts was desperate to win the black vote in the presidential primaries and hoped Belafonte would help. "There was no time for polite soft talk," Belafonte recalls. "I told him his choice in coming to me was rather misguided ... 'You should talk to our leaders - if you don't know Martin Luther King, your knowledge of him will be central to your interests.' " Kennedy went on to win the Democratic party's nomination and beat Richard Nixon in the presidential election by a margin of less than 1% - Belafonte's endorsement possibly being the decisive factor.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2008, 12:38:29 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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