Harry Belafonte (RIP), James Baldwin, Marlon Brando & Sidney Poitier Talk About Civil Rights, 1963

Note: Yes­ter­day Har­ry Bela­fonte, the civ­il rights activist, singer and actor, passed away at age 96. In his mem­o­ry, we’re bring­ing back a post from our archive, one that fea­tures Bela­fonte and oth­er leg­ends dis­cussing the March on Wash­ing­ton, back in August, 1963. The film above is now made avail­able by the US Nation­al Archives.

On the day of the his­toric “March on Wash­ing­ton for Jobs and Free­dom” (August 28, 1963), known today as The Great March on Wash­ing­ton, CBS aired a 30-minute round­table dis­cus­sion fea­tur­ing Har­ry Bela­fonte, James Bald­win, Mar­lon Bran­do, 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.”

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Noam Chom­sky & Har­ry Bela­fonte Speak on Stage for the First Time Togeth­er: Talk Trump, Klan & Hav­ing a Rebel­lious Heart

How Jazz Helped Fuel the 1960s Civ­il Rights Move­ment

How Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. Used Niet­zsche, Hegel & Kant to Over­turn Seg­re­ga­tion in Amer­i­ca

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  • Christopher DiFonso says:

    I almost fell out of my chair from the shock in see­ing that Charl­ton Hes­ton was in D.C. that day AND that he par­tic­i­pat­ed in this pan­el. For bet­ter or worse, I remem­ber his lat­er years as a fer­vent con­ser­v­a­tive and pres­i­dent of the NRA.

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