7 years ago

“Artists are the gate keepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.”

American singer and social activist, "King of Calypso”, Harry Belafonte received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (Oprah Winfrey -video)(Jeffrey Katzenberg -video)(Angelina Jolie -video), (Jerry Lewis – video) (Audrey Hepburn -video) (Frank Sinatra – video) (Lew Wasserman – video), (Rosalind Russell -video) (Howard W. Koch – video) (Roger Mayer – video) at the Governors Awards in the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, CA, on November 8th, 2014. This for individual’s outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes. The award category was instituted in 1956, and is awarded periodically by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). During Belafonte’s powerful speech, the 87-year-old activist and actor continued to call for change in Hollywood, this from an artist duty… As did the artists John Legend and Common, in the midst of the Oscar Ceremony last sunday. Just after performing “Glory,” the anthem of Selma, Legend said (VIDEO)

  • “Nina Simone said it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live. We wrote this song for a film that was based on events 50 years ago, but we say that Selma is now. Because the struggle for justice is right now.”

Nina Simone original words on the role of the artist where: 

  • “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their choice, but I CHOOSE to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. And at this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when everyday is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved. Young people, black and white, know this. That’s why they’re so involved in politics. We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore. So I don’t think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist.”

and was used (archive footage) in Liz Garbus-directed Netflix documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” which opened the Sundance Film Festival this year –  Listen and watch here: Nina Simone: An Artist’s Duty – VIDEO. The quote used in the article above: 

  • “Artists are the gate keepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.”

comes from American singer and social activist Paul Robeson (April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976), Belafonte’s very good friend, and which also happens to be the street name I ‘proudly’ live in Berlin. Belafonte ends his speech at the 2014 Governors Awards with the following powerful words: Watch the full video of Belafonte’s acceptance speech here – VIDEO. 

  • "I really wish I could be around for the rest of this century, to see what Hollywood does with the rest of the century. Maybe, just maybe, it could be civilization’s game changer. After all, as Paul Robeson said, artists are the radical voice of civilization. Each and every one of you in this room, with your gift and power and skills, could perhaps change the way in which our global humanity mistrusts itself. Perhaps we as artists and visionaries for what’s better in the human heart and the human soul could influence citizens everywhere in the world to see the better side of who and what we are as a species." 

Yes! Hollywood…. stop making stupid people famous.

  1. Empire – Hollywood: The Pentagon calls the shots – VIDEO
  2. Empire – Hollywood: Chronicler of War – VIDEO
  3. Empire – Hollywood: Chronicle of an Empire – VIDEO
  4. Empire – Hollywood and the war machine – VIDEO

Photo Credit: Oscars.org. Over-and-out.