Actor and activist Harry Belafonte recently sat down with Roland Martin for an exclusive interview to discuss his upcoming social justice music festival Many Rivers To Cross, his views about Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest, and the fight for social justice.
During the course of their chat, Mr. Belafonte explained what it means to be a Black patriot in America. Belafonte, now 89 years old, has stood up for the rights of the oppressed in the United States and inspired generations of activists to change the paradigm.
Belafonte told Martin he would like to be remembered as a “good patriot” and said, “I am motivated to say I am an American.”
Despite identifying himself as an American, Mr. B. said he “finds it difficult to be an American” in the same fashion as Jackie Robinson did when singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Belafonte said, “The images that come to mind is not Lincoln and Roosevelt and Washington.
“What really helped me commit to this country is that such nobel men and women … Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth who felt the real sting of slavery, who fought against that and changed history, changed the paradigm being so that this country is worth investing in,” Belafonte said.
In examining his life and where he wanted to be, Belafonte said, “When I was looking at where to go in my life and I wanted to just flee from the scene of this mischief, I took a look at what happened to Paul Robeson, what happened to the great leaders of my time and what they did,” Mr. Belafonte came to the conclusion that “this is what it’s about.
“For me when I think of being an American, I think about the America that we profess we want to be and yet to achieve and I genuinely believe that they only way America can achieve it is if I help America achieve it.”
He continued, “If I don’t step into the fray and make myself be heard and make the thoughts be felt, then I’ve failed my journey.”
Watch Roland Martin and Harry Belafonte discuss what it means to be truly patriotic in the video clip above.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty