[A-List] Harry Belafonte's Love for Racial Justice - and Radical Muppets

c b cb31450 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 3 06:47:54 MST 2010

Harry Belafonte's Love for Racial Justice - and Radical

by Kai Wright, Jorge Rivas

November 30 2010


This morning, we posted a gripping conversation between
ColorLines' publisher Rinku Sen and music legend and civil
rights icon Harry Belafonte. He offers his insight on race
and politics today, and articulates a perspective that feels
terribly relevant as we prepare for what will no doubt be a
bruising political year of racially loaded scapegoating on
Capitol Hill. You can't just wish race away, he says; black
president or not, we've gotta deal with this head on. So
this evening, we're closing with some Belafonte love from
days' past.

He was among the first, loudest celebrity voices to join
civil rights activists on the front lines as the movement
erupted in mid-century. In the images here, the young,
handsome star joins the throngs on the National Mall for the
1963 March on Washington; the shot of him with Sidney
Poitier and Charlton Heston at the Lincoln Memorial is
priceless. What a trio! But after spending the day digging
around the Web for Belafonte gems, we settled on something
more touching for the daily love: Belafonte kicking it with
Muppets and talking about the power of love to change the

Among Belafonte's many accomplishments was being the first
black man to win an Emmy, in 1959. In the following decades
he showed up on several TV shows, including a famous
appearance on "The Muppet Show" in 1978. On the show, he
sang his smash hit "Day O" (which had helped "Calypso"
become the first album to sell a million copies) for the
first time on television. But he also performed a number
called "Turn the World Around." He said he discovered the
song while talking to a story teller in Guinea, who told him
a fable about the Earth, Sun and Moon working together to
keep the world spinning. All of us are part of that
movement, he explained, and are bound by it. "The question
is," he said, "do we care about each other? Because if we
do, together we can turn the world around." He sang it again
at Jim Henson's funeral, with a more explicit (and deeply
moving) introduction about its relevance to racial justice
and how Henson's Muppets had helped propel the movement for
a more just world.

Harry sings an African song, "Turn the World Around", about
the interconnection between fire, water, mountain and
spirit, accompanied by Muppets based on African masks.

Muppet Show. Harry Belafonte - Turn the World Around (ep314)


And that's today's love - spinning planets toward justice by
embracing others. Well, that and the Muppets. Check out the
performance in the video above and have a smile. Then watch
Belafonte's conversation with ColorLines, either at the link
or below.

We're ending the day as often as possible by celebrating
love. We welcome your ideas for posts. Send suggestions to
submissions at colorlines.com, and be sure to put Celebrate
Love in the subject line. You can send links to videos,
graphics, photos, quotes, whatever. Or just chime in to the
comments below and we'll find you. Be sure to let us know
you've got the rights to share any media you send.

To see other Love posts visit our Celebrate Love page.

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