belafonte on obama: "a dagger in our sense of justice"

On a recommendation from a friend, I watched Harry Belafonte interviewed by Charlie Rose in New York City. Belafonte - musician, actor, social-justice activist, radical - is a joy to hear, and his life story is a march through history.

Here's one terrific thing I learned. Belafonte was still searching for his musical niche, finding the place where his music would match his heart. He went to the Village Vanguard to see Woody Guthrie, and that set him on his true life path. A few weeks later, he saw Leadbelly, and the whole thing was confirmed. Belafonte went to the Library of Congress and to hear and absorb everything he could about folk music and the activist music tradition. I wasn't aware of a connection between Belafonte and Woody (except in the metaphorical sense, the connection every activist musician has to Woody Guthrie). That was very cool.

If you're interested in Belafonte (or, for that matter, in US history, African-American history, theatre history, civil rights...), the whole interview is well worth your time. But at about the 45-minute mark, Rose asks Belafonte about Barack Obama. It's at the end of a long session (the full, unedited interview ran close to two hours), and I think the 84-year-old Belafonte is a bit tired and flagging, so he is not at the top of his game. But it's still worth hearing, when Obama asks, "When are you and Cornel West going to cut me some slack?", to which Belafonte responds, "What makes you think we haven't already?"

Listen here; Rose asks about Obama shortly after the 45-minute mark.

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I've also been watching portions of Cornel West and Tavis Smiley's Poverty Tour, including this segment that features Iraq War veteran and peace activist Geoff Millard, speaking about how war and poverty work together. I've always been a huge fan of Cornel West. I'm happy to know he's still a public teacher.

The Poverty Tour:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Remaking America, a panel discussion on solutions, featuring Michael Moore, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Suze Orman, Majora Carter, Vicki B. Escarra, moderated by Smiley.

Lots of great stuff here. Some people want to throw out the present economic system, some people have ideas on how to make the present system more liveable and equitable, but everyone wants to face the reality of a country imploding into a third-world nation.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3.

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Bonus: 37 seconds of humour. The description from YouTube: "Bill O'Reilly claims that banks haven't broken any laws; Tavis Smiley and Cornel West react appropriately."

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