Harry Belafonte on Race & Politics Today

Image Credit: Colorlines Video, Channing Kennedy & Noel Rabinowitz

Originally posted in Colorlines by Kai Wright.

Harry Belafonte talks about the underlying issues surrounding race, poverty, and oppression and how these issues have worked against Black Americans. Belafonte, known for his work as an actor and singer, has also spent many years as an advocate for social justice. In 2005, he founded Gathering for Justice in response to the many young people who face incarceration. Its “mission is to build an intergenerational movement rooted in history, cultures and non-violent direct action to heal communities, build collective strength, and generate an environment of hope and opportunity.”

ColorLines publisher Rinku Sen sat down with music legend and civil rights icon Harry Belafonte this summer for a wide-ranging conversation on race and politics in the Obama era. When we revisited the footage in the days after the election, it became clear Belafonte’s perspective was urgently relevant for people trying to make sense of today’s politics. So we’ve pulled out selections from their discussion in the video above, as part of our ongoing analysis on what the November “shellacking” does—and does not—mean.

Belafonte has spent decades helping to lead reform movements around the world. He’s not just leant his celebrity, but has played meaningful roles in several human rights struggles, most recently in the founding of the Gathering for Justice. His accumulated wisdom brings invaluable context to the ups and downs of electoral politics. Most importantly, Belafonte stresses that our concern needn’t be over President Obama’s political well being; our concern must be with building a people-driven movement for justice, to which any elected official must respond.

In the new year, we’ll publish the full conversation between Belafonte and Sen, along with a profile of his latest human rights campaign, against youth incarceration. In addition to the conversation with Belafonte, you can check out all of ColorLines’ post-election analysis and reporting on our Election: Now What? page. We’ll keep the conversation going as the new Congress takes over next year—and as we all plot the path to the change that so many rallied around two years ago.

Link to Video: Conversation with Harry Belafonte

Link to Gathering for Justice

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