Harry Belafonte

  • Aired:  10/17/11
  •  | Views: 21,373

Harry Belafonte talks about the significance of his "Banana Boat Song" and why he dedicated himself to humanitarian and civil rights activism. (5:41)

>> Stephen: THANK YOU VERY

MUCH, WELL COME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS A

MUSICAL LEGEND WHOSE NEW

BOOK IS CALLED MY SONG.

WHICH IS GREAT BECAUSE I

HAVE A SONG CALLED MY BOOK.

PLEASE WELCOME HARRY

BELAFONTE.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

LOVELY TO MEET YOU.

WHAT A PLEASURE TO YOU HAVE

ON.

>> WHAT A PLEASURE TO BE ON,

AT LEAST, TO BE ON STEPHEN

COLBERT.

I CAN'T BELIEVE IT.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: WOULD YOU LIKE A

MOMENT TO DRINK ME IN.

>> YES.

>> Stephen: NOW YOU'RE AN

ARTIST AND AN ACTIVIST.

YOUR 1956 ALBUM CALL

INSURANCE SO MADE YOU THE

FIRST-- CALYPSO MADE YOU THE

FIRST ART TOIS SELL OVER A

MILLION ALBUMS.

YOU HAVE A TONY, EMMY,

NATIONAL MEDAL OF THE ARTS,

YOU WERE AN ADVISOR TO THE

PEACE CORPORATE, A UNICEF

GOODWILL AMBASSADOR LEADER

OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS AND

ANTI-APPEAR DIED

DIED-- ANTI-APARTHEID

MOVEMENTS AND YOUR NEW BOOK

IS CALLED HARRY BELAFONTE,

MY SONG.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

FIRST OF ALL, CAN WE GET A

SHOT OF THAT.

WHO-- I GOT TO KNOW, WHO IS

YOUR LIGHTING GUY BECAUSE I

WANT HIM TO FOLLOW ME AROUND

WHEREVER I GO.

THAT IS A FANTASTIC LOOK.

YOU KNEW EVERYBODY.

LIKE THIS BOOK IS FULL OF

STORIES OF YOU AND MARTIN

LUTHER KING, SINATRA, JFK,

RAILROAD RFK.

HOW DID YOU HAVE YOUR

FINGERS IN SO MANY OTHER

PIES?

HOW -- WHAT WAS YOUR

CONNECTION TO ALL THESE

PEOPLE?

>> I JUST HAD A GREAT LUST

FOR LIFE AND LUST FOR WHAT

WAS GOING ON IN AMERICA.

AND JUST WANTED VERY MUCH TO

BE INVOLVED IN WHERE THE

TIMES WERE GOING.

>> YOU ARE A MUSS IG, THOUGH,

WHY WAS A MUSICIAN INVOLVED

IN SO MUCH ACTIVISM.

SHOULDN'T YOU JUST BE

SINGING THE BANANA BOAT

SONGS.

WHICH BY THE WAY IS ONE OF

THE FINEST BANANA COUNTING

SONGS EVER.

>> I MUST TELL YOU THAT THAT

SONG HAS AN AWFUL LOT TO DO

WITH THE EVENTS OF THE DAY.

>> Stephen: REALLY.

>> YEAH, IF YOU STOP AND YOU

REALLY LISTEN TO THE LYRICS

OF THE BANANA BOAT SONG, IT

IS A WORK SONG, ABOUT PEOPLE

DOING GRUELING WORK ON A

PLANTATION.

>> EXACTLY.

AND TO TURN THAT INTO AN

ANTHEM THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE

SINGING, ESPECIALLY AT NEW

YORK YANKEE GAMES.

YOU EVER GO TO A YANKEE

GAME.

>> Stephen: I HAVE, YEAH.

>> WELL, EVERY NOW AND THEN

YOU HERE DAY-O.

AND THE WHOLE STADIUM GOES

UP IN A BIG DAY-OH SHOUT.

>> Stephen: DID YOU GET A

PIECE OF THAT.

DO YOU GET A LITTLE PIECE OF

THAT, WHEN THAT HAPPENS?

NO?

THAT'S THE REAL INJUSTICE,

MY FRIEND.

>> NOW YOU KNOW WHY I'M HERE.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: YOU USED YOUR

BANANA COUNTING FAME AND

YOUR DESIRE TO MAKE THE

WORLD A BETTER PLACE TO HELP

WITH THE CIVIL RIGHTS

MOVEMENT.

YOU HELPED ORGANIZE THE

MARCH ON WASHINGTON, WHICH I

WAS AT, ACTUALLY.

I WAS AT THAT, IN MY

MOTHER'S WOMB.

SHE WAS PREGNANT WITH ME.

>> YOU HAVEN'T CHANGED A

BIT.

>> Stephen: OH, BACK THEN, I

HAD YOUR HAIR.

NOW WHY USE FAME FOR SOCIAL

CHANGE?

WHY NOT JUST BE RICH AND

LUSTED AFTER?

THAT'S WHAT I DO WHY, WHY

WOULD YOU BE MOTIVATED.

>> WELL, I THAT OPTION.

AND WHEN I LOOKED AT IT AND

TRIED TO BE REASONABLE ABOUT

WHAT TO DO, WITH SO MUCH

POWER, WITH SOME OF

ADULATION W SO MUCH PROFILE,

I THOUGHT THAT THE COMMUNITY

FROM WHICH I CAME WOULD BE

BETTER SERVED IF I WOULD

FOCUS A LIGHT ON WHAT

HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO ARE

NOT QUITE AS FORTUNATE AS WE

ARE.

AND THAT I HAD A

RESPONSIBILITY TO REACH INTO

THAT MISFORTUNE AND TRY TO

MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

>> Stephen: DO YOU STILL

SING.

>> YES, ON OCCASION.

>> Stephen: ON OCCASION?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: WHERE THE NIGHTS

ARE GAY ♪

♪ AND THE SUNSHINES DAILY ON

THE MOUNTAINTOP ♪

♪ I TOOK A TRIP ON A SAILING

SHIP ♪

♪ AND WHEN I REACHED JAMAICA ♪

♪ I MADE A STOP ♪

♪ NOW I'M SAD TO SAY ♪

♪ I'M ON MY WAY ♪

♪ WON'T BE BACK FOR MANY A

DAY ♪

♪ MY HEART IS DOWN ♪

♪ MY HEAD IS TURNING

AROUND ♪

♪ I HAD TO LEAVE MY LITTLE

GIRL IN KINGSTONTOWN ♪♪

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: I'M AFRAID WE

HAVE TO LEAVE OUR LITTLE

TALK RIGHT HERE.

HARRY BELAFONTE.

HIS BOOK IS "MY SONG"

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.