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BELAFONTE EXPLAINS ABSENCE AT KING FUNERAL:

He was missed at the funeral.  But I guess they were afraid of what he would say.

Activist says his invitation was snatched at the last minute.

Looks like there was just as much politics going on outside of Coretta Scott King’s February funeral as there was inside.

As four U.S. presidents sat behind the podium at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, GA, and criticism of the current Bush Administration mixed freely with words celebrating Coretta’s legacy from the likes of Maya Angelou and Reverend Joseph Lowery, Harry Belafonte was at home, wondering why his invitation to deliver one of the eulogies for his dear friend was rescinded at the last minute.
“I saw who sat there, and as the camera moved about, I saw who was sitting in the audience, and I saw all of the power of the oppressor represented on the stage, and all those who fought for the victories that this nation was experiencing and enjoying sat in the outhouse, sat out in the field, sat removed, and if it not been for Lowery, for President Carter and for Maya Angelou, we would have had no voice and no representation at all” Belafonte stated on NPR’s “Democracy Now.”

The singer, who marched with King’s husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., tells NPR’s Amy Goodman that he knew of Coretta’s poor health just before her death, but had no idea she was in Mexico.

When news broke that she had died, Belafonte said: “I left a message on the phones of [her] children, saying, ‘Please give me a call. I know this is a difficult moment, but there are things that must be done, and I would like to help if I can.’”

He received a call the next day, Friday, stating the funeral would be held the following Tuesday at noon, and he was to be one of the people delivering the eulogy at around 12:30 or 1 p.m. 

“That Saturday, Bush declared he was coming,” Belafonte said. “That Sunday, I began to change my speech, not to be rude or to be attacking, but to integrate this moment into what needed to be said. And then, that Monday morning, I got a call, and I was told that the invitation that had been extended to me had been pulled. I was uninvited.”

Belafonte says “a woman by the name of Skinner and a Reverend by the name of Lawrence was the one who called me to tell me that I was uninvited, and when that call came, I called and spoke to one of the children. They said, these are the events, and I need to be counseled as to how this has come about, and I was told that I would get a call shortly, and it would all be clarified. And then, when the final call came, it was—they were sorry, but the withdrawing of the invitation would stand and that if I came down, they would find a place for me in the church, but I would not speak. And I did not go at all. I did not know how to deal with that.”

According to Belafonte, some ministers were upset over Belafonte’s snub, and told him, ‘Come on down here. We have to talk to the press, and I said, ‘Talk to the press about what?’ ‘About this. We cannot let it stand.’ I said, ‘I don’t think that’s appropriate. These are the children of my friend. These are the children of the movement.

“Where did we let them get caught? Why was Bernice giving this kind of sermon? How did you let Reverend Long become the minister of choice? Why wasn’t it at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King preached? And before we go public and begin to vent our anger, let us understand what role we played in this capitulation that has led to this moment, and let us try first to repair it rather than to go into public discourse.”


Posted by loni on 03/27 at 02:55 PM in Blogging

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