Harry Belafonte: “Faced with Oppression, I Had to Act” (Motivational Words from the Actor/Activist on His 90th Birthday

Harry Belafonte | Credit: Sankofa.org

Harry Belafonte | Credit: Sankofa.org

Over the last week, we’ve been celebrating the 90th birthdays of Sidney Poitier (February 20) and Harry Belafonte (March 1), recalling past work (especially lesser known films) and other clickables, both on this blog and on our social media spaces (see pieces on “Porgy & Bess,” “The Slender Thread,” “A Patch of Blue,” “Odds Against Tomorrow,” some Did You Know trivia, a short film about Poitier’s brush with the Hollywood Blacklist).

Today… on Harry Belafonte’s 90th birthday, he speaks and we listen.

A motivational 2012 interview with the actor/producer/musician/activist/more as a documentary on his life, “Sing Your Song,” opened in theaters; the then 85-year-old spoke to Sarfraz Manzoor of The Guardian about his life and work in film, music and fighting for social equality – as chronicled in a his memoir (which was also released that year). He also discusses his friendship with Martin Luther King, his relationship with President John F. Kennedy, and the humiliation that led him to become more heavily involved in the fight against racial injustice.

Certainly worth watching and listening on this hump-day Wednesday:


  1. "Harm's way" sorry. When will be be sophisticated enough to not to to Hollywood for leadership? I have to laugh if I called Harry an "Uncle Tom" your trained to defend massa instincts would seize on me.

  2. I worked for Mr. Belafonte on a film in the 80's. He systematically humiliated me in public settings, called me "whitey," etc., and yet would also call me into his office to discuss how "pretty I was." He's a hypocrite.

  3. I can't stand this self-righteous pompous jackass. Any Hollywood negro married to a white woman to dare call a man like Colin Powell "Uncle Tom" sickens me.

    • I totally agree with you Jason. As much as I personally admire Mr. Belafonte for his onscreen performances and his outstanding vocal activism, he is very contradictory.

      • There’s the miscegenation rant, right on schedule. Because you must be sleeping with fellow black people in order to criticize any other black people. Feelings injected where they aren’t relevant!

  4. I really adore this man. He's a real WARRIOR, unlike so many complacent black celebs today.

  5. You critics can’t hold a candle to Harry Belafonte! Frederick Douglas was married to a white woman, Booker T. Washington, …the list is long and illustrious. How dare you? Who they marry or not is irrelevant, what they do in service to humanity and to defeat brutal racist forces here and abroad is paramount. What have you done, who have you helped, whose bail have you paid, whose children have you sent to college?. Have a seat. In the corner. Don’t forget your dunce cap.

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