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Actor and activist Harry Belafonte has been on the front lines in the fight for social justice for decades, and has battled alongside the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Today, he is inspiring a new generation of activists.

Roland Martin, host of NewsOne Now, recently sat down with Belafonte and criminal justice activist Carmen Perez for an exclusive interview to discuss his upcoming music and arts festival, Many Rivers to Cross. During Martin’s exclusive interview with Belafonte, the icon discussed social justice, Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest, Nate Parker’s rape scandal, and voiced his opinions on the legacy of President Barack Obama.

In the video clip above, Mr. B, as he is affectionately known, shared why now is the time for the Many Rivers To Cross festival. Belafonte said the select group of artists, which include Jamie Foxx, John Legend, Chuck D, Alice Smith, Common, and others will sing songs speaking to the most important issues of our time.

Despite the A-listers who will be attending to argue for the rights of African-Americans through the use of art and culture, Mr. Belafonte said he was surprised by the artists he invited who turned down the important event.

Mr. Belafonte told Martin, “There are some artists that told me yes in the light of enthusiasm in the first rush and when pressed to really define what would be asked of them, what kind of songs to sing, and what they would be turning their attention to comment on … stepped away.

They didn’t want the blemish, they don’t want the burden of responsibility,” he continued.

Their decision not to participate in the Many Rivers To Cross event left the long-time activist feeling rather sad: “The particular people that stepped away were the ones that I least suspected that would have done that.” 

Watch Martin and Belafonte discuss the Many Rivers to Cross Music and Art Festival, the Donald Trump phenomenon, and more in the video clip above.

Harry Belafonte Assesses President Barack Obama’s Tenure In Office

As President Barack Obama prepares to exit office at the end of his second term, actor/activist Harry Belafonte shared his views on Mr. Obama’s time in office and his commitment to Black America.

Mr. Belafonte said he, as well as others, are “guilty” of heaping their expectations on Pres. Obama.

Belafonte said President Obama measured against every president who has resided in the White House, “He has been as good as most and better than many.”

Belafonte touted the Affordable Care Act as an accomplishment that would help all Americans. “In that act alone, this serves the needs of Black people, that in so doing serves the needs of all people,” he said.

He had some criticism, however: “With what Black people are facing in terms of the racist platform of Donald Trump … and what others are saying in support of him, means we need to hear more from Barack Obama on that subject than we’ve heard.”

Belafonte, who is known for his strong critiques of our leaders, said, “There is a sense of the lack of fulfillment through the time of his presidency. ” 

Watch Roland Martin and Harry Belafonte discuss Pres. Barack Obama’s tenure in office in the video clip above.

Harry Belafonte Shares His Views On The Nate Parker Decades-Old Rape Case Scandal

A decades-old rape case resurfaced and looms large over Nate Parker’s new film The Birth of A Nation, which chronicles the life of Nat Turner.

Harry Belafonte questioned the timing of the resurfaced allegations during his exclusive interview with NewsOne Now host Roland Martin. 

Mr. B. asked, “Why pick this moment to raise this issue and what is it that the raising of the issue that has not been satisfied already?

“By no stretch of the imagination do I approve of what he did, do I see any justification for what he did, and because he may have been in a tough place as a young man and may have had a rough experience at a certain time during his life,” said Belafonte.

He continued: “All those may be facts, but it doesn’t blur the truth – the truth is that you were involved in an act of rape and it is unacceptable and inexcusable.”

Parker was found not guilty of rape after facing trial. Belafonte said the larger issue here is “really the criminal justice system” and “why did they let him go and not someone else?”

Watch Harry Belafonte share his thoughts about the Nate Parker rape case in the video clip above.

If you are in Atlanta this weekend, be sure to attend the Many Rivers To Cross Social Justice Music and Arts Festival.


Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.


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Watch Portions Of The NewsOne Now Exclusive: A Conversation With Harry Belafonte  was originally published on