Interview with Harry Belafonte
QUESTION 20
INTERVIEWER:

Take that piece off, just don't make reference to the 1990s, that's all.

HARRY BELAFONTE:

OK, OK, let me just reword that then, ah. At the time of, of, of, of, of the movement emerged there was less than 300 Black elected officials, ah, on all levels of electoral politics. Dr. King, although he felt that Blacks using the, the, the, the voting process, the constitutional basis for involvement and therefore changing much about our conditions in life, was not going to be exclusively, ah, the only handle that we had on our destiny as a people because he maintained that for many, not just for a handful, but for many Blacks who would begin to evidence themselves in these new roles, electoral politics, that their clear class interests would override their racial interests, that once they began to feel opportunity, once they began to feel success, once they began to feel personal power, that they would begin to drift away from the very thing that gave them the platform to begin with, they would begin to drift away from, from, from meaningful Black interests, that they become part of a whole new thrust, that they become a disillusionment in ways and that the only hope for the movement in this country was for a people's movement that would be vigilant, that would be eternally in motion as long as there was a need for it, that would then serve notice on leade--because if there were leaders getting into office and no movement, then we would, we'd just, ah, retrogressed and, ah, he saw all of this in that period of the eruptions in the cities and the violence and the displaced because to satisfy the youths of Chicago and Detroit and other places, it wasn't just about the vote, it was about opportunity, economic opportunity and getting some of those rights. So Dr. King saw those riots, both the frustrations and the difficulties that, that were inherent in it and in it he saw some resultant, ah, ah, effects.