Last year the legendary singer/actor Harry Belafonte made headlines when he called out Beyoncé and Jay Z for ignoring their “social responsibility.”
The 86-year-old activist cleared up his remarks about the celebrity couple during a recent interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
Friday, the Florida-based non-violent activists known as the Dream Defenders gained the support of Belafonte.
“I’ve come down to be at the disposal of young people,” Belafonte said “Not only to tell the history from whence we’ve come; but to talk for a host of artists who are very high profile, a number of leaders who are very high profile, who are waiting to hear, ‘How do we look at a strategy in the immediate future?”
The Dream Defenders began occupying the capital building in Tallahassee, Florida, after the verdict for George Zimmerman was announced, and will remain there until Governor Rick Scott meets their demand to convene a special session of the legislature to review the controversial Stand Your Ground law.
“To boycott is an important thing for people to do; it touches the economic nerve; it touches the way people are sustaining themselves. And if we interrupt the machine; if we interrupt the economic flow, then I think we can make a difference,” Belafonte said.
He applauded Stevie Wonder and other musicians for their decision, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, to boycott performing in Florida while its Stand Your Ground law remains on the books.
When asked, by Chris Hayes, if he thought that Jay Z should cancel his upcoming concert in Florida, Belafonte said, “I would be hard pressed to tell Mr Jay Z what to do with his time and his fortune. I can only be critical of what he is not doing.”
Belafonte also discussed the comments he made about Jay Z and Beyoncé last year. “I would hope with all my heart, that Jay Z did not take personally what was said,” Belafonte said. “I would like to take this opportunity to say to Jay Z and Beyonce: I’m wide open, my heart is filled with nothing but hope and the promise that we can sit and have a one-on-one to understand each other.”
During a recent interview with Rap Radar, Jay-Z responded to Belafonte’s criticism that he has failed to use his celebrity power in a socially responsible way.
“I’m offended by that because first of all, and this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity.” Jay Z said. “Just who I am. Just like Obama’s is. Obama provides hope. Whether he does anything, the hope that he provides for a nation, and outside of America is enough.”
“I felt Belafonte he just went about it wrong. Like the way he did it in the media, and then he big upped Bruce Springsteen or somebody. And it was like, ‘whoa,’ you just sent the wrong message all the way around…Bruce Springsteen is a great guy. You’re this Civil Rights activist and you just big upped the white guy against me in the white media. And I’m not saying that in a racial way. I’m just saying what it is. The fact of what it was. And that was just the wrong way to go about it.”
Who do you think is right in this public debate? Jay Z or Harry Belafonte?
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