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SCLC Bids Farewell to Harry Belafonte

SCLC Bids Farewell to Harry Belafonte

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference Bids Farewell To Harry Belafonte, a Leading Man in Entertainment and On the Civil Rights Battlefield


ATLANTA – Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, issued the following statement upon the passing of Harry Belafonte, one of America’s leading men in entertainment and on the civil rights battlefield.

“Mr. Harry Belafonte was a great leader. He was a leading man in the music arena, Hollywood and in social justice. For the SCLC, he was a major champion. He was there for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. not only socially as a friend or as a movement person, but he was also there financially. He helped raise money for Dr. King. He was his confidant. He was also a great source of inspiration for me. When I became president and CEO of the SCLC in 2004, he came to Atlanta, and he greeted me. Over the years, we participated in many rallies and on many panels. He always told me to hang in there and to never give up. He inspired me many years before we met. When I was a little boy growing up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I saw the movie Carmen Jones, where he starred with Dorothy Dandridge. That was the first time I ever saw a movie with a leading Black actor and Black actress. Their performances were excellent, and it brought respectability and credibility to the Black community. One of my favorite quotes by Mr. Belafonte was his recollection of a private moment with Dr. King, who was discouraged about America’s inability to address the nation’s growing poverty after some civil rights successes regarding integration. He said ‘Harry, I think I have integrated my people into a burning house. I forgot about the economics.’ Mr. Belafonte understood that it takes money to enjoy the basics of what America has to offer. Unfortunately, we are still in that burning house. Thank you, Mr. Belafonte, for leading the way in the spirit of Dr. king as well as for yourself. Your contributions will be apart of our movement forever.”

ABOUT THE SCLC: Established in 1957, the SCLC, whose first president was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is an international organization made up of chapters and affiliates with programs that affect the lives of all Americans: north, south, east, and west. Its sphere of influence and interests has become international in scope because the human rights movement transcends national boundaries. For additional information about the SCLC, visit www.nationalsclc.org.To arrange an interview with Dr. Steele, contact Jerry Thomas at jerry@jerrythomaspr.com, or (312) 804-7999.

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