Harry Belafonte was presented with this year's NAACP Image Awards Spingarn Medal and he used the opportunity to speak out about the devastating effect of gun violence in the black community.
It was music to my ears to hear Mr. Belafonte call out the Black Church who have been conspicuously absent from the national dialogue.
In the gun game, we are the most hunted. The river of blood that washes the streets of our nation flows mostly from the bodies of our black children. Where is the raised voice of black America? Why are we mute? Where are our leaders? Our legislators? Where is the Church? [...] Never in the history of Black America has there ever been such a harvest of truly gifted and powerful artists [...] our Nation hungers for their radical song. Let us not sit back silently. Let us not be charged with patriotic treason.
(Wish I knew how to cut out the idiotic performance by Wyclef...and I never thought I would say this, but Common's wasn't much better.)
Harry Belafonte is no ordinary joe. He has earned the right to lecture our leaders and he has never shied from doing just that.
Belafonte supported the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and was one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s confidants. He provided for King's family, since King made only $8,000 a year as a preacher. Like many other civil rights activists, Belafonte was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. He bailed King out of Birmingham City Jail and raised thousands of dollars to release other civil rights protesters. He financed the Freedom Rides, supported voter registration drives, and helped to organize the March on Washington in 1963, and as a result was awarded the Jeremy Nicholson Negro Achievement Award.
During "Freedom Summer" in 1964 Belafonte bankrolled the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, flying to Mississippi that August with Sidney Poitier and $60,000 in cash and entertaining crowds in Greenwood.