(Host) Activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte was in Hanover Monday to deliver the keynote address as part of the Martin Luther King Day events at Dartmouth College.
Belafonte was a popular film and music star in the 1950s and 60s, when he was dubbed “The King of Calypso.”
Throughout his career he has also been an outspoken activist.
VPR’s Steve Zind reports:
(Zind) The 79-year-old Belafonte speaks softly but he has lost none of the passion of his younger days, when he used his celebrity to speak out on a variety of political causes.
Belafonte has been one of the Bush administration’s harshest critics and in remarks made before his speech, he said he’s puzzled about why more students aren’t politically active today. He says his goal is to encourage them to be more engaged.
(Belafonte) “They have far more power than they’re willing to acknowledge. There are choices to be made. This is about young people. It’s about where this country goes. It’s about where they will take it. Each generation must be responsible for itself and we were very much responsible for ourselves in a time that I would have called my youth.”
(Zind) Belafonte says he believes the nation faces greater problems today than it did in Martin Luther King Junior’s time, but the civil right’s leader’s message remains very current.
(Belafonte) “Almost everything that he said, instructions that he gave, I think are quite appropriate and quite needed. Situations such as the war, immigration, poverty, health care, the whole nine yards.”
(Zind) Belafonte says his mentors were a generation older than Martin Luther King, Junior – people like Paul Robeson, W.E. B. Dubois and Eleanor Roosevelt. He said although King was younger than he was, King was a personal inspiration and, a force I could not have lived without.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Hanover.