belafonte invites you to 'SIng Your Song'
On Tuesday, July 5, 2011, the SLC Film Center (now the Utah Film Center) and the Salt Lake City Library in conjunction with the Freedom Riders Coalition Project showed a special advanced screening of “Sing Your Song.” A biography of musician, actor and activist Harry Belafonte, “Sing Your Song” focuses on Belafonte’s roles in numerous activist activities and the results they had in his life.
Because of his activist activities during the era of McCarthyism, the FBI broke into his home and told his wife, Marguerite Byrd, that Belafonte was a Communist. Belafonte says in the film that his wife couldn’t believe that the government would make up a lie about that and their marriage dissolved.
He met his second wife, Julie Robinson, when Marlon Brando asked Belafonte to take Brando’s girlfriend to lunch. They had many of the same beliefs and interests but grew apart.
As the movie flashes through Belafonte’s role in the civil rights movement, in the fight against war and nuclear weapons, in Apartheid and hunger in Ethiopia, in Haiti and its democracy and in gang reform, there is a sense of a repeated pattern. Banners carried in a pre-1973 rally have slogans that could still be used today.
Belafonte asks what happened. After 50 years of struggle, why weren’t things better?
While he doesn’t answer the question, it seems as if the movie would. The great strides that were made in all of those activism activities, of which Belafonte was a part, had to do with his relationship to people. Calling on Hollywood stars to walk with him, to sing, to provide the protection that comes with fame to those who were less famous – he was able to do this because of the friendships he had.
It seems as though relationships matter, especially when he says what he thought about doing before meeting his third wife, Pamela Frank, whom he describes as being someone he is able to spend the rest of his days with.
This article was originally published at examiner.com.