Interview with Harry Belafonte
QUESTION 30
INTERVIEWER:

The year is 1967, '68, Vietnam.

HARRY BELAFONTE:

Many, many, many of the Black, those who represented the Black leadership from the NAACP, Roy Wilkins, all the rest, that ilk. You know, wanted to know how in the name of God, could we making these demands on the federal government in the assistance of the Black cause domestically and violate this government by raising the issue that clearly had to do with foreign policy. And--

INTERVIEWER:

Stop.



HARRY BELAFONTE:

The, the question raised by the Black leadership of that period, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and others, the only one who was exempt from this was A. Philip Randolph. You know their position was, how in the name of God can you be asking the federal government to give us all the resources we require to change the domestic situation here at home and at the same time violate, ah, their, their foreign policy, ah, put them to the mat on an issue that is at the nerve center, the very heart of this country, ah, at best they're going to be viewed as unpatriotic in having ceased to hurt the country in its most vulnerable moment and at worst what you're going to do is to have such a backlash from people that, ah, Blacks will be further back than they had ever been before. Ah, it was a persuasive argument, ah, in terms of its potential. But Dr. King had come to accept the fact that, from a moral position and an ethical position, the war was inhuman and unacceptable, but also from a technical position. Since the war was clearly illegal, unconstitutional, all the things that we've come to know that war to be, how were the Blacks of this country ever going to be able to have their resources to do what had to be done, if in fact integration was to come about, if the government was spinning off all of these funds and monies into these illegal activities. And, the fact that Blacks were the first to be drafted and were numerically the largest number serving in Vietnam and dying in larger number per capita than anyone else, that the whole thing, in, in, in its entirety, ah, ah, was a campaign that Dr. King was, was prepared to, to go through with, with the understanding that the true patriot, the real American, the one who was doing the country the greatest service was the one who would in fact state his case that it was illegal, immoral, unacceptable and not to the best interests of the country, ah, domestically as well as in its foreign policy, ah--