NEW YORK - ColorLines.com has released portions of an exclusive interview with music legend and civil rights icon Harry Belafonte as part of its “Election: Now What?” series, exploring the post-election landscape from a racial justice perspective.
Harry Belafonte is a world-famous entertainer and lifelong advocate for civil rights and humanitarian causes. In a wide-ranging conversation, only parts of which is being released now, Belafonte explored America's debate over race, which he said looks much more like a confrontation. “It is a glorious and wondrous thing that America came to a moment that it could go into the voting booth and come out with a man of color,” Belafonte commented on the election of Barack Obama. “What it didn’t do was seize upon this moment of color and the color issue to have the fullest and the richest debate we could... we are shortchanged by the president on the issue of how we look at race.”
Said Applied Research Center president and ColorLines publisher Rinku Sen, “From the Great Depression to the Great Recession, Harry Belafonte’s lifetime of activism for racial justice brings us an invaluable perspective on American politics today.”
As the first artist ever to sell more than 1 million records, Belafonte shared his view on the value artists bring to discussions about race: “The more people know about other people’s culture they begin to find something very reasonable in that song, or reasonable in that painting, or reasonable in the story that some person from another culture tells. I might even find some moral to my own humanity, and my own joy… That’s why I think artists have a unique role to play - we are the keepers of the truth.”
ColorLines Editorial Director Kai Wright commented on the interview, “We spoke with Belafonte before the elections, but realized afterward how urgent his perspective is for young people trying to make sense of today's politics. We've been building space for just that kind of big picture thinking on the site, and the interview is an exciting addition.”