Interview with Harry Belafonte

Can I get you to think about You were a particular character between camps, between Stokley Carmichael and Rap and the SNCC kids and Dr King and SCLC. Do you remember being in that role?


Oh, yes, very clearly it was, ah, it was a role that had been, ah, I'd been given the role. I mean I, it, it was a very difficult role to be in. But it was also a, a great challenge in a way. People in SNCC I think trusted me a great deal because, from the very beginning of the formation of SNCC, ah, I had been very supportive of it. And, ah, continued to be all through its existence. And I had been, ah, one of the primary, ah, sponsors financially of SNCC. Ah, I had a, a number of meetings with SNCC in its earliest formation. Ah, the council of Ella Baker and things that I had discussed with her gave me a great deal of insight into what SNCC was about and what SNCC hoped to achieve. And I felt very comfortable with that. I felt that their, that their suspicion and their sensitivity to SCLC and the elders, ah, ah, the Black community who represented it. Ah, that was historical and it was classic and it was the way it should have been. Young people are always in rebellion against, ah, the elders and the leaders, ah. If you come upon a moment in history when that history is not moving forward in some positive and some meaningful way. Certain Black people in this country were deeply frustrated, ah, by what had happened to and was happening to existing Black leadership, Roy Wilkins, ah, Whitney Young, and even the great and the viable leaders, Paul Robeson and Du Bois had all but been contained. There was really no, not, no, no aggressive voice doing for us what youth felt should be done. So I was very satisfied that, ah, SNCC served a very important dimension to the movement, that they were going to become the provocateurs. They were going to become the radical voice. They were going to become the voice of non-compromise, which I felt was vital to the movement.