harry belafonte

Entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte is known for speaking his mind, and this time he’s lent his celebrity to the fight for gun control.

The legendary performer, who is best known for “The Banana Boat Song,” is urging African-Americans to join the national debate on guns.

“What really concerns me is the ingredients of the discourse,” he said to the Associated Press. “The African-American community … where is that community? Where is that voice? I think the black community, the black leadership need to stir it up.”

Belafonte says the Black community should speak up because the national debate ignores decades of urban gun violence. “What I find missing mostly in the American discourse is the rejection of radical thought,” he said. “They (national leaders) speak within the same dull space they inherited from past oppressors.”

Since the new legislation will directly affect the African-American community, the 85-year-old says Black leaders should participate and the people should embrace “radical thoughts” for solving violence, poverty and inequality.

Belafonte’s legacy dates back to the civil rights movement. He organized the 1963 March on Washington and he was a financial contributor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How do you believe the African-American voice will change the gun control debate?

  • Mademoiselle

    On your comparison to cars & drunk drivers: there are driver’s ed classes offered in high schools that cover everything from proper driving to drunk driving and how mixing medications can impair your alertness; I wonder what everyone’s thoughts are on gun ed classes that would include everything from handling a gun to emotional stressors and when not to get behind a gun. It’s just a thought — please don’t come down on me over the implications of arming teenagers. I just wanted to throw it out there and see what people think.

    On your comment on mental illness: I hear a lot about increasing security in schools (which I’m not against), but so little about increasing the presence of counselors in schools. I’m wondering when the therapy debate will start, and if that’s not an opportunity for the black community to take the bull by the horns. I have no doubt that white people will do what they have to to prevent their kids from being shot, but if part of the reason black kids are being shot is the mental illness and despair that plagues our communities, then we should be championing the conversation.

  • Mademoiselle

    One more thought: just like there are prerequisite courses for some high school and college classes, and required lab hours, etc. I wonder if requiring students to receive a certain number of therapy hours as a graduation requisite would go over well — as a preventive measure for violence, but also a catch all for all signs of mental illness. For instance, students have to complete 4 therapy hours each year (one session per quarter) to pass their grade level, and 16 for graduation, with catch-up hours available during the summer.

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