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Author Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS WARRIOR - Harry Belafonte  (Read 78 times)
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« on: June 23, 2008, 10:38:39 pm »


President Kennedy appointed Belafonte cultural adviser to the new Peace Corps, which sent thousands of young volunteers to Africa, Asia and Latin America. But that did not allay concerns in the civil rights leadership about the president's choice of attorney general: his younger brother, Bobby. "We saw it as a very dark day," says Belafonte. Though now seen by history as a champion of civil rights, social justice and peace in Vietnam, in 1960 Bobby was known as a lawyer who had aided the McCarthy witchhunts. When the civil rights leaders debated Bobby's appointment, King told the meeting that they had no choice but to accept they needed the help of the Kennedy brothers. And he gave Belafonte a very clear mission: "Find Bobby's moral centre and win him to our cause."

The two men were similar ages and had young children. Over the next eight years, their families would spend many days together around Kennedy's swimming pool, going to concerts and playing touch football. "To reach someone's soul, you have to have a social relationship," says Belafonte. "You can't just sit down in the cold world of legal jargon and settle the nuances of racism and what it does to the social and cultural fabric." But Belafonte says Kennedy's real transformation came when he went to the poor white areas of Appalachia and into the southern states to see things for himself. "The rich in America are so isolated that for Bobby to come into this intimate experience with its victims was a revelation. You could see in his face the anguish and consternation. It played away at his conscience and soul."

In the 1968 election, Belafonte was a tenacious activist for Kennedy. And he still had the superstar status to give the campaign special help. When Johnny Carson, the host of NBC's flagship Tonight Show, took a week's break, Belafonte became the first black person to host a US chatshow.

King and Kennedy were among his guests, but just a few months later both would be assassinated, shot dead at
the peak of their powers.

With Mrs. King at MLK's funeral
« Last Edit: June 24, 2008, 12:52:22 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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