Actress Shari Belafonte on protests & how her famous father compares today to the 1960s

Actress Shari Belafonte grew up with parents who taught her to be active and involved. Her famous father, Harry Belafonte, was a key figure in the 1962 march on Washington, the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement.
GLENDALE (KABC) -- Actress Shari Belafonte grew up with parents who taught her to be active and involved. Her famous father, Harry Belafonte, was a key figure in the 1962 march on Washington, the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement. Shari is seeing the protests going on now and is weighing in on the big picture, both through her eyes--and the eyes of her father.

"We do have to have protests to remind people this is viable, this is real," said Belafonte, "but we need to have that place and that space where people can come together on solid ground and say, 'This is what is important to me' and life, above all, should be important to everybody."

Belafonte has been watching this all unfold, from the protests that followed the death of George Floyd to the destructive looting that ran wild to the now peaceful and powerful demonstrations we see every day. She believes images of Floyd definitely struck a chord. "When you've got something that's so evident, that's so right in-your-face, people, you know, rise to the challenge," she said. "There's a feeling that they have that's inherent that says, 'I have to do something about this'."

Belafonte has been in show business for decades now, from her starring role on TV's "Hotel" to a role she has now on "The Morning Show." Her father, singer Harry Belafonte, was Martin Luther King Jr.'s best friend. She says whenever King was working on a speech, her dad was right there to lend a hand. "And Harry's got pages and pages that Martin wrote, first drafts of his, you know, 'I've Got A Dream' speech," said Belafonte.

Her father was the key showbiz figure working with King on the civil rights march on Washington back in 1963. Mayor Hollywood stars of the day joined Harry in supporting the movement. At the podium at that march, he said black America had endured "the most intolerable injustices." There were 200,000 people there to witness that day. It was a day that spurred lawmakers to pass the Civil Rights Act the following year. Now, some 57 years later, Harry Belafonte still sees injustice with the deaths of Floyd and other African Americans.

Shari Belafonte explained it this way: "It's disheartening to see we've come as far as we have and yet it's like two steps forward and now we're five steps back. Harry is very disheartened in what's going on right now. He even said to me the other day, 'It's worse now than it was in the sixties,' as he as he's concerned."

In the early sixties, her father told both John and Robert Kennedy people of color need to have their voices heard. "Right now, I think people are not desensitized. They're very sensitive about what's going on. So with any luck," Belafonte said, "we'll have a better opportunity to advance humanity forward and not have to pick and choose colors."
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