The actor, crooner and humanitarian activist Harry Belafonte has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at the launch of the Human Bondage (Slavery) Project at Input 2008.
Belafonte was born in Harlem, New York and first made his “living” by busking as a New York club singer with the likes of Charlie Parker in the 40’s and 50’s – to pay for his acting classes. He is a prolific producer of music (best known for singing Banana Boat Song aka Day-O), has starred in a number of films and to this day remains a vociferous and fearless civil and human rights activist.
According to Wikipedia, in 2002 he earned the umbrage of the Bush Administration when he quoted Malcolm X to characterise former and current secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, saying:
There is an old saying, in the days of slavery. There were those slaves who lived on the plantation, and there were those slaves who lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master, do exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him. That gave you privilege. Colin Powell is committed to come into the house of the master, as long as he would serve the master, according to the master’s purpose. And when Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture. And you don’t hear much from those who live in the pasture.
In 2006 Belafonte led a delegation of activists that included actor Danny Glover and Cornel West to a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, where he came out in strong support of Chavez and the Venezuelan struggle.
Belafonte has earned the respect of human rights workers and activists the world over for his consistent condemnation of oppression and injustice globally.
Next month he visits South Africa to speak at the Human Bondage (Slavery) Project being launched at Input 2008.