Harry Belafonte tells it like it is in a speech at the NAACP Image Awards

Harry Belafonte
Singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte gave the audience at the 2013 NAACP Image Awards a serious wake up call during a speech he gave after recieving a special award that was handed to him by his dear friend Sidney Poitier.  As he dropped some history and knowledge on the crowd, he also challenged African Americans to be more involved in the debate over gun violence. Belafonte is obviously disappointed by the lack of famous, wealthy entertainers of color who are standing up for social justice these days. We can only hope that this speech will go viral so that people can be re-introduced to Harry Belafonte’s incredible life story.

Harry Belafonte, now 85 years young, told it like no one else could as Black History Month begins. Watch the video here, and read the speech below.


From Harry Belafonte‘s speech at the 2013 NAACP Image Awards:

THE GROUP MOST DEVASTATED BY AMERICA’S OBSESSION WITH THE GUN IS AFRICAN AMERICANS. ALTHOUGH MAKING COMPARISONS CAN BE DANGEROUS, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THEY MUST BE NOTED. AMERICA HAS THE LARGEST PRISON POPULATION IN THE WORLD AND OF THE OVER 2 MILLION MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO MAKE UP THE INCARCERATED… THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY IS BLACK.

THEY ARE THE MOST UNEMPLOYED… THE MOST CAUGHT IN UNJUST SYSTEMS OF JUSTICE… AND IN THE GUN GAME… THE MOST HUNTED. THE RIVER OF BLOOD THAT WASHES THE STREETS OF OUR NATION… FLOWS MOSTLY FROM THE BODIES OF OUR BLACK CHILDREN. YET AS THE GREAT DEBATE EMERGES ON THE QUESTION OF THE GUN, WHITE AMERICA DISCUSSES THE CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE OF OWNERSHIP WHILE NO ONE SPEAKS TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR RACIAL CARNAGE. WHERE IS THE RAISED VOICE OF BLACK AMERICA? WHY ARE WE MUTE? WHERE ARE OUR LEADERS ? OUR LEGISLATORS ? WHERE IS THE CHURCH?

NOT ALL …BUT MANY WHO HAVE BEEN RECIPIENTS OF THIS DISTINGUISHED AWARD WERE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SPOKE UP TO REMEDY THE ILLS OF THE NATION. THEY WERE COMMITTED TO RADICAL THOUGHT. THEY WERE MY MENTORS, MY INSPIRATION, MY MORAL COMPASS. THROUGH THEM I UNDERSTOOD AMERICA’S GREATNESS. DR. W.E.B. DUBOIS, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FANNIE LOU HAMER, ELLA BAKER, BOBBY KENNEDY, CONNIE RICE, AND PERHAPS MOST OF ALL, PAUL ROBESON. FOR ME, HE WAS THE SPARROW. HE WAS AN ARTIST WHO MADE US UNDERSTAND THE DEPTH OF THAT CALLING WHEN HE SAID ” ARTISTS ARE THE GATE KEEPERS OF TRUTH. WE ARE THE CIVILIZATION’S RADICAL VOICE.”

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.

– Harry Belafonte