By Don Valentine
This is a new segment the Westside Gazette will feature thru the end of February. That is the conclusion of Black History Month. Hopefully it will educate or jog your memory on the legacy of our Black pioneers!
Harry Belafonte and Dr. King
Mr. Belafonte is a 3 time Grammy winner. As well as an acclaimed actor. There are a lot of other footprints he left that people may not know or remember. Few people remember that he was a very close confidant to Dr. King.
Belafonte supported the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s and was one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s confidants. He provided for King’s family since King made only $8,000 a year as a preacher. Like many other civil rights activists, Belafonte was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. During the 1963 Birmingham Campaign, he bailed King out of Birmingham City Jail and raised $50,000 to release other civil rights protesters. He financed the 1961 Freedom Rides, supported voter registration drives, and helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington.
During the Mississippi Freedom Summer” of 1964, Belafonte bankrolled the Student Nonviolent Co-ordinating Committee, flying to Mississippi that August with Sidney Poitier and $60,000 in cash and entertaining crowds in Greenwood. In 1968, Belafonte appeared on a Petula Clark primetime tele-vision special on NBC. In the middle of a duet of On the Path of Glory, Clark, a White woman, briefly touched Belafonte’s arm, which prompted complaints from Doyle Lott, the advertising manager of the show’s sponsor, Plymouth Motors. Mr. Lott wanted to re tape the segment, but Clark, who had ownership of the special, told NBC that the performance would be shown intact or she would not allow it to be aired at all. Newspapers reported the controversy, Lott was relieved of his responsibilities. Yet another example of how the Harry Belafonte character has influenced our country!