Interview with Harry Belafonte

Do you remember it touching anyone in particular?


Yeah, I think the person who was most affected by the trip. Well, if, if, first, let me hasten to, to, to change that. I can't say who was most affected because effect is not always immediate. It can be very long range. And for a lot it was long range. But the person who immediately appeared to be the most affected was Fannie Lou Hamer. Ah, of course when we arrived, in, in, the, the, the, Ghanaian government put us up as, ah, as their guests. So everything was, ah, as, as a gift from the government. And they were given the best places in which to live and, and, and fellow Africans were there to, to serve and to, and to help with the needs of the, of the guests. And Fannie Lou Hamer was in the middle of taking a bath over in her area, right in the middle of taking a bath, when Sekou Toure, without any, ah, ah, protocol, without saying anything drove up to meet us, we were to supposed to meet him until the next day officially at a reception. But he was doing his evening thing and drove by and I had to go over to tell Fannie Lou Hamer that the President and arrived and it was the only time I could ever remember Fannie Lou Hamer getting totally rattled. I mean, she said, "What?, No, no, no, you all playing a joke. No, no, you don't do this to me now. I'm having a bath." And she went and, and, it was wonderful to, and then when she, when she was, when she understood that we were telling the truth that he had come, ah, she dressed and she came to the meeting and after the meeting, the Sekou Toure talked through an interpreter. After the meeting, Fannie Lou started to cry and, ah, she said that she didn't know quite what would happen to her from this experience because for so long Black people had been trying to get to the President of the United States of America where we were citizens and where we had rights and could never see him. And here in Africa when we had an appointment on a certain day this President came to see her, was, was, I don't know, metaphorically or somehow symbolically, ah, it meant a great deal to her and, ah, I don't think anybody who was on that trip ever saw themselves in quite the same way again. But it was an environment that did a lot for the people who went and that when everybody came back I think it was, ah, well, it was an appropriate thing to do.