Interview with Harry Belafonte
QUESTION 28
INTERVIEWER:

Sorry, What, what it? Reference for me, the surveillance of the government, the pursuit--

HARRY BELAFONTE:

First of all, ah, ah, there is no way for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to have conducted its affairs the way it conducted its affairs if it was not specifically hostile to us and to the movement and everything it represented. And that, for J. Edgar Hoover to find some moral basis on which he would contain himself from doing the evil that he did was just not, he, there was no way, that equation didn't exist. He was too corrupt. He was too evil. His utterances, both public as well as in private, were too racist and too, it, it, it was, you know, he was paranoid. All that stuff made us knew that every facility available to the FBI was going to be used and was in fact being used to discredit the movement and that wire taps and surveillance, ah, ah, certainly events that happened in some instances with SNCC, ah, ah, the coincidence of things emerging when nobody knew, ah, either was the result of an informer in the group, who informed, or the result of direct intervention through wire tapping and other surveillance. An, we talked about that constantly. So that there were times when we spoke to one another from safe phones, given what the nature of the information was that where we would be. Ah, find a safe phone, give me the number. I'll go to a safe phone and call you. We did that any number of times. I certainly did it with Dr. King especially during the years of the trial. And the whole issue of Bobby Kennedy and Stan Levenson and the need that they had for Dr. King to begin to purge our ranks and, ah, of communists, quote, unquote. The, the full dimension of that reality did not become very clear to us until, ah, ah, we had access to the information in the archives--


HARRY BELAFONTE:

the Freedom of Informations Act, when you saw all of it, ah, and, and, and but what was, what, what, what defied us was that the very people whom we saw as allies to our cause, whom we felt were people of fun-fundamentally good will to us, were also involved in wire tapping and were the ones whom we had reason to trust --were serving certain information. To think of the Kennedys and Bobby Kennedy and people in the Justice Department in the Civil Right Division, tapping us when we were, in what we considered to be open concert with them. Ah, there was nothing that we ever said or didn't say to Bobby Kennedy, ah, that, that, that wasn't reflective of what we were saying in private. Dr. King was very much on the table. I mean he was upfront. We didn't have major battle, we weren't trying to overthrow the government. There were no reasons for us to break up into cells. We weren't consorting with the enemy, whoever that would have been, what the Soviet Union, ah, our generosity to our own 'cause was also that generosity that opened us up to anybody who would hear us and they could hear it all in an open forum. The need to wire tap and to do what they did only served later on to, to be used as instruments to discredit, ah, by getting into our personal lives and getting into personal information which had nothing to do with politics. Ah.