Thursday, February 7, 2013

Harry Belafonte's Kick ass speech

WOW! Harry Belafonte was presented with the Spingarn Medal Award (awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for outstanding achievement by an African American.) for his achievements, and dedicated the time to make this statement about Black America today.

After his speech, Jamie Foxx won an award & he got up & said he had written something to say, but after hearing Belafonte's words, none of that matters. What Bealfonte said sheds light on what it is he needs to be working on. Talk about a speech with serious impact!

Veteran singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte has weighed in on the debate over gun violence, chastising fellow black Americans for failing to speak out on the issue.

Belafonte, 85, whose singing career helped popularise calypso music, was receiving an NAACP Image Award at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Friday night, and used the opportunity to launch an impassioned appeal.

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

“Let me start off first saying, thank you to the N. A. A. C. P. and Ben Jealous, for the work you do, the path you’re forging for us in these troubled times. 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 latest 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. We are the most unemployed, the most caught in the unjust systems of justice, and in the gun game, we are 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 of the consequences of our racial carnage. (Applause)
The question is, where is the raised voice of black America? Why are we mute? Where are (Applause) Where are our leaders? Our legislators? Where is the Church? (Applause)
Not all, but many have been the recipients of this distinguished award. Many 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, and others like Fannie Lou Hammer, Ella Baker, Bobby Kennedy, Condi Rice and perhaps most important for me, Paul Robeson.
He was the sparrow. He was an artist who made us understand the depth of that calling, when he said, “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.”
Never in the history of Black America, has they ever been such a harvest of truly gifted and powerful artists as we witness today,  yet our nation hungers for their radical song. 
 Let us not sit back silently.
 Let us not be charged with patriotic treason. 
 I thank my friend Sidney Poitier for stepping to the plate. I promise you Sid, you’ll never have to do this again. 
 But, my congratulations to all those who are honored here tonight. And I’ll tell you, our kids, those who languish in the prisons of America, are waiting on us to change the system. Thank you.”
"What I find missing mostly in the American discourse is the rejection of radical thought," he said, in a previous speech. "They (national leaders) speak within the same dull space they inherited from past oppressors."
Belafonte eloquently delivered such powerful words and to use the time/spotlight he could have used to reminisce & name off those who helped him along the way in his singing career. No! He had the spotlight & he was going to use this time to be an activist.

He took on the roll of the wise grandfather of the Black Community, when he delivered this speech.
The band did not dare to "play him off the stage"- what he had to say was literally life & death important. This is one of those landmark, very important speeches.

His words captured my attention, in a jaw dropping, bring you to tears, MAN ! this guy is speaking cold hard truth, so well. 
I am in awe of his wisdom to seize the moment & use it to spark the community to work together & make meaningful changes. He deserved the Award Medal just for that speech alone!


Life As I Know It Now said...

Truer words, that. Thanks for bringing this story to my attention. Black people are dying of gun violence every day upon the streets of America--shame.

Fran said...

I loved the way he challenged the silent, status quo. Why are we silent? Where are the churches?
Why are we putting up with this, when they have the most at stake.
He really nailed it with the perspective of white people debating about the constitutional right of ownership of guns, while black kids are dying by guns at a disproportionate rate.

It has happened so many times, it has become an accepted norm.
This was a remarkable, well delivered wake up call.