ATLANTA (NNPA) Civil rights activist Rev. C.T. Vivian and actor/ humanitarian Harry Belafonte discussed their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement as well as political and global concerns during a recent candid conversation sponsored by the C.T. Vivian Institute.
"We knew that racism was the most inhumane factor of this society," said Vivian, when speaking about the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. "We were always thinking of a way to end it."
Moderated by the Atlanta Chair of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention Steven F. Waddy, the conversation was held at the Atlanta Life Financial Building last month, and was recorded for Podcast.
Vivian, a close friend and lieutenant of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was appointed by King to the executive staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1963. Likewise, Belafonte was a confidant of King, who financially assisted his family as well as being a chief financier of the civil rights movement. He bailed King out of the Birmingham Jail in 1963.
Vivian, 83, has recently been a leading activist on behalf of Hurricane Katrina victims and Belafonte, 80, has been an avid critic of the Bush Administration.
Vivian and Belafonte also gave their opinions on the government, particularly the current Bush administration.
"We have come closest to Fascism in America than we have ever before," said Vivian.
A large portion of the conversation was focused on Belafonte, who spoke candidly about growing up in Jamaica and his life; as well the lives of other Black men, after returning to the United States and serving in the military during World War II. He also discussed the importance of art, which he described as "...a tool for liberation and inspiration," as well as the importance of better understanding culture.
"I have always seen culture as the strongest weapon in the human arsenal," said Belafonte, who was appointed under President John F. Kennedy as the cultural advisor for the Peace Corps.
After the discussion, patrons were encouraged to ask questions and were given the opportunity to meet both Belafonte and Vivian.
Said Waddy, "Because of their relationships to the human rights struggle and the passing of the civil rights generation, it is important that we hear from them."