harry belafonte

Entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte is known for speaking his mind, and this time he’s lent his celebrity to the fight for gun control.

The legendary performer, who is best known for “The Banana Boat Song,” is urging African-Americans to join the national debate on guns.

“What really concerns me is the ingredients of the discourse,” he said to the Associated Press. “The African-American community … where is that community? Where is that voice? I think the black community, the black leadership need to stir it up.”

Belafonte says the Black community should speak up because the national debate ignores decades of urban gun violence. “What I find missing mostly in the American discourse is the rejection of radical thought,” he said. “They (national leaders) speak within the same dull space they inherited from past oppressors.”

Since the new legislation will directly affect the African-American community, the 85-year-old says Black leaders should participate and the people should embrace “radical thoughts” for solving violence, poverty and inequality.

Belafonte’s legacy dates back to the civil rights movement. He organized the 1963 March on Washington and he was a financial contributor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How do you believe the African-American voice will change the gun control debate?

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  • E.M.S.

    Here’s how I look at it: a gun is no more responsible for a death than a car is if a drunk driver is behind the wheel. There are countless ways to cause harm (and kill) with a multitude of things, be they weapons or not.

    If helps you sleep at night, let’s tighten things up, yes it will help but it will not end all senseless acts of violence. There will always be killings, so long as there are unstable people around who resort to it. On those grounds, I’m indifferent.

    Perhaps we should focus more on educating people about gun safety and make sure people who are mentally disturbed have the resources they need to keep from going off the edge and ending up on the news for shooting somebody.

    • Mademoiselle

      On your comparison to cars & drunk drivers: there are driver’s ed classes offered in high schools that cover everything from proper driving to drunk driving and how mixing medications can impair your alertness; I wonder what everyone’s thoughts are on gun ed classes that would include everything from handling a gun to emotional stressors and when not to get behind a gun. It’s just a thought — please don’t come down on me over the implications of arming teenagers. I just wanted to throw it out there and see what people think.

      On your comment on mental illness: I hear a lot about increasing security in schools (which I’m not against), but so little about increasing the presence of counselors in schools. I’m wondering when the therapy debate will start, and if that’s not an opportunity for the black community to take the bull by the horns. I have no doubt that white people will do what they have to to prevent their kids from being shot, but if part of the reason black kids are being shot is the mental illness and despair that plagues our communities, then we should be championing the conversation.

    • Mademoiselle

      One more thought: just like there are prerequisite courses for some high school and college classes, and required lab hours, etc. I wonder if requiring students to receive a certain number of therapy hours as a graduation requisite would go over well — as a preventive measure for violence, but also a catch all for all signs of mental illness. For instance, students have to complete 4 therapy hours each year (one session per quarter) to pass their grade level, and 16 for graduation, with catch-up hours available during the summer.

  • there is NO gun DEBATE. the NRA tells us what to think and we thank it.

  • justanotheropinion

    You can’t and legislate CRAZY. SANE ppl don’t use revolvers, semi automatic or automatic guns to randomly kill others. CRAZY FOLKS DO CRAZY ‘ISH. In my mind, this is all just political jockeying. Simply just more posturing by ppl. that have no real intent to fix inner city (and now main stream white america) violence.

  • leelah

    It would’ve helped if the president would’ve included black people and urban violence into the conversation. I would think the death of that beautiful girl that performed at his inauguration would’ve been the perfect moment for him to hold a beer summit or something to shine light on the issue. Or the simple fact that chicago is the murder capital right now, during his presidency. A couple of days ago Obama went to Las Vegas to give a speech on immIgration. If he doesn’t go to his own city to give a speech on gun violence then its official that Obama doesn’t care about black issues. And Its all about the democrats trying to win the Latino vote from the republicans.

    Governor Cuomo of New York passed a beautiful gun bill that addressed alot of the problems they were having with urban violence.

    The first thing the president needs to do is get a director for the ATF, boost that departments budget, hire more agents. And give the ATF the power to establish a national registry. We have to register our cars, we should have to register our guns. Also make private gun sales illegal. It all has to go through a dealer.And dealers have to keep a current inventory of their guns. And stop the sale of bullets online.–Those things alone will put a major dent in the problem.