March 01, 2006

Harry Belafonte

I went to the Harry Belafonte talk last night at Strosacker and he lived up to his reputation as a plain speaker who does not shy away from telling it like it is. He again called Bush a terrorist and added "traitor" as well. He also confirmed that the reason he did not speak at Coretta Scott King's funeral was that he had been disinvited when Bush said that he was attending, and confirmed the story that I wrote about on Monday about the splits in the King family about how to move forward.

But his talk was a lot more than that. It was a moving personal story about his life, the things he had done, and why he had done them. When he spoke of the people he had met with and worked with, it was a who's who of all the people around the world who have helped make this a better place - Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Malcolm X. Harry Belafonte spoke about how he was completely won over by Martin Luther King at the very first meeting they had together and how he immediately dedicated his life to helping him achieve his agenda.

But more significantly, his talk was also a self-criticism, a fear that somehow he and his generation had failed in their intention to hand on the baton to the next generation to fight for justice, to keep its flame alive.

He spoke of his sadness at the plight of young minorities who are filling up the ever-expanding prison system. As a result, far from being retired (today is his 79th birthday) he is going around talking to young people in prisons and in the gangs to see what he can do. He spoke of his deep belief that the right to vote is the most powerful weapon for justice that we have and it should not be wasted and trivialized.

In the question period, it was clear that he had inspired many people because, unlike so many celebrities, he had risked his career at its peak, by speaking out and acting so strongly for justice. In doing so, he was following in the footsteps of his mentor, the great Paul Robeson.

Harry Belafonte looked and sounded terrific. Fighting for justice and speaking the truth has kept him vibrant and strong. He is a living legend.


The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is hosting a special free screening of the documentary film THE RISE OF THE POLITICS OF FEAR on Monday, March 6, 2006 at 7:00pm. This documentary by Britain's Adam Curtis is a three-part series shown on the BBC as part of their series on THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES and was broadcast in 2004. The program is 180 minutes long.

Admission is free but an $8 donation ($5 members) is requested. For directions and free parking information, see here.

An article in the Guardian titled The Making of the Terror Myth reviews the documentary, and says in part:

Terrorism, by definition, depends on an element of bluff. Yet ever since terrorists in the modern sense of the term (the word terrorism was actually coined to describe the strategy of a government, the authoritarian French revolutionary regime of the 1790s) began to assassinate politicians and then members of the public during the 19th century, states have habitually overreacted. Adam Roberts, professor of international relations at Oxford, says that governments often believe struggles with terrorists "to be of absolute cosmic significance", and that therefore "anything goes" when it comes to winning. The historian Linda Colley adds: "States and their rulers expect to monopolise violence, and that is why they react so virulently to terrorism."

Here is information from the Cinematheque website.

Here's the most incendiary political documentary since Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11! Adam Curtis' three-part essay, made for the BBC, dissects the war on terror by arguing that fear has come to dominate politics, and that the notion of a secret, organized, international terror network (e.g., Al Qaeda) is a bogeyman created by powerful interests to maintain control. Curtis, whom Entertainment Weekly has called "the most exciting documentary filmmaker of our time," employs extensive scholarship, interviews, and revealing film clips to trace the parallel rise of Islamic fundamentalism and American neoconservatism – mirror images of each other in Mr. Curtis' view. "A superbly eye-opening and often absurdly funny deconstruction of the myths and realities of global terrorism." –Variety.


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Admission is free but an $8 donation ($5 members) is requested. For directions and free parking information, see here."

Mano, this is contradictory. Did you mean to say that admission is free but a free will collection will be taken to support the filmmakers. If not, who gets the $8 and how can the event be called free? Thanks, Cathie

Posted by catherine on March 1, 2006 12:20 PM

I have no idea how this works. I just reproduced the information from their website.

I am assuming that "free" means that they are not insisting on people paying admission. I suspect that it has something to do with copyright issues and charging for public viewing. BBC may not be allowing people to make money off their documentaries but the Cinematheque has expenses associated with screening films.

But all this is just guesswork on my part.

Posted by Mano Singham on March 1, 2006 12:50 PM

"The likes of which are no more" that phrase came to me again last night, as I sat waiting, parked to the side in the garage after Belafonte's talk for close to one hour, watching and listening to constant horns blowing, raging engines, cars cutting off others, in their impatience and frustration in being stuck in a nonmoving auto jam - I have never experienced such behavior in a parking garage. And I assume these individuals had just come from hearing this wonderful man speak.

This phrase had recently come to me also when I walked out of the film "Good Night and Good Luck".

The one statement Belafonte said that keeps being played in my head - his somber admission that he, and his contemporaries, have failed in passing the baton to the next generation. I think that's the only statement I disagreed with - for I believe the arms have been adequately outstretched, the baton readily accessible and in clear sight - there's just been no individual(s) with the true capacity to receive it.

I am very grateful to have been in the same room with an indivual of such depth - the likes of which I may never see again.

Posted by Mary on March 1, 2006 05:16 PM

Is there a bright spot-light of SHAME and DISGRACE that now shines on the descendents of the once great people who proudly proclaimed themselves to be - Americans!

America - The land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE.

Are American principles and values alive and well in the hearts and minds of the American People?
Or are they just dead concepts that are no longer considered worth fighting for by the people of this country?


If you have a few minutes - PLEASE listen to this VERY IMPORTANT 4 minutes of dialog.

It was presented on March 14, 2006 by the now famous (actor James Spader) Attorney - Alan Shore, inside a court room on the TV Show - Boston Legal.


TO HEAR THIS IMPORTANT AUDIO CLIP: CLICK this link > James Spader's monologue From "Boston Legal"


You be the JUDGE!

Then - if these issues are important to you and your loved ones - please consider - forwarding this email to every American you know!

The music added during the beginning few seconds and final two minutes of the audio clip was inserted by the radio station that aired this audio clip and was not part of the original TV broadcast.

If you are (understandably) wary of email links you can also go to - then CLICK: James Spader's monologue From "Boston Legal", located about halfway down the middle of the webpage - this will play the same audio file.


Also, if you know anyone who taped the video and audio of this show - please let me now as I have an interest in producing something of value around it

Posted by D on March 17, 2006 12:24 PM

The Boston Legal video clip referred to by D above can be seen here.

Posted by Mano Singham on March 17, 2006 12:33 PM

Thank you for your thoughtful, intelligent blog. I also appreciate your reference to one of my heroes, Harry Belafonte. As a little girl, I remember my parents singing "Day O" in the MS cotton fields, music that often began the spirituals. I was five. And I somehow KNEW a big change was coming and that I was seeing and living in the last of something and that what was dying had the possibility of being HUGELY good as a friend of mine says. Now I'm in Panama and I see "Day O" in the evils of Chiquita and I'd give anything to have Mr Belfonte here, in our church and grieving community (60+ % unemployment due to Chiquita), speaking his truth. He is one of the last voices of his generation that remain; and I would say that if it weren't for his generation, I would not be in Panama; nor would my husband. His generation laid the groundwork for a powerful change; it is we who are complacent and privileged; the left has moved to the center and we need the voices of our heroes and ancestors TODAY, encouraging us and especially encouraging the younger generations in places of the 2/3 and 3rd Worlds-those youth desperately are seeking heroes and figures of their own as beacons of hope. If anyone has an email or way to get in touch with Mr Belafonte, we'd really appreciate a contact.

Peace, Hope, and the nonviolent revolution!

Cedar Creek Rectory
Almirante, Republic of Panama

Posted by oonagh Ryan-King on September 12, 2006 09:37 PM