Interview with Harry Belafonte



Very frustrated because, for instance, in Chicago, a Northern city, which didn't have the classic image of a Southern city, racist mayor, a declared racist, segregationist, ah, he came into Chicago. He, he had this little apartment that he lived right in the heart of the ghetto. He lived in, in the environment that he was representing. Ah, and he talked to Mayor Daley and Mayor Daley was certainly symbolically a liberal force within the Democratic Party, ah, he certainly had been there and a great friend of Mahalia Jackson and could evidence hundreds of Black people who were known to him by first name and whom he had given a lot of opportunity and privilege to. So he was a tough one to get in line. Ah, and Dr. King knew that he was taking on a new kind of adversary, that it was no longer the, the stereotypic segregationist, White person from the South in the tradition. It was now coming to something far more insidious, ah, the institutionalized, ah, the, the, the well honed, ah, ah, ah, benevolent racist, the one who, who--who sought in benevolent ways to give privilege but would not use his power to change the system and to change the condition because it was not to his political interests to do so. Ah, it was a new onslaught. As a matter of fact in Chicago, in the State of Illinois, particularly in Cicero, the next time he came back, it was the worst single experience Dr. King ever had. He felt closest to death in Cicero than he had anywhere. He never saw hate quite as, in, in the dimensions, anywhere in the South and all that he had been through, as he saw in Cicero, Illinois. Because he saw it among what he considered to be informed White folk who should have been very different.