Great Cultural Icons Talk Civil Rights: James Baldwin, Marlon Brando, Harry Belafonte & Sidney Poitier (1963)

On the day of the his­toric “March on Wash­ing­ton for Jobs and Free­dom” (August 28, 1963), known today as The Great March on Wash­ing­ton (watch it on YouTube in three parts), CBS aired a 30-minute round­table dis­cus­sion fea­tur­ing James Bald­win, Mar­lon Bran­do, Har­ry Bela­fonte, Charl­ton Hes­ton, Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Sid­ney Poiti­er.

The whole seg­ment is fas­ci­nat­ing, even and per­haps espe­cial­ly because the speak­ers pur­sue their some­times diver­gent agen­das (Hes­ton speaks opti­misti­cal­ly about peace­ful dis­sent, Bran­do hopes the Civ­il Rights move­ment may lead to repa­ra­tions for Native Amer­i­cans, while Bela­fonte warns omi­nous­ly that the Unit­ed States has now reached a “point of no return”). But it may be Joseph Mankiewicz, the sharp-wit­ted writer/director of All About Eve, who pro­vides one of the dis­cus­sion’s pithi­est lines: “Free­dom, true free­dom,” he says, “is not giv­en by gov­ern­ments; it is tak­en by the peo­ple.”

For a very dif­fer­ent take on the events of the day, you can lis­ten to audio of the famous speech Mal­colm X deliv­ered a few months lat­er, “A Mes­sage to the Grass Roots,” in which he calls the march a “cir­cus,” and its black lead­ers “[Uncle] Toms.”

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon. If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.