January 28, 2013

Bridgétt Blogs About Harry Belafonte

Bridgétt with friend, Esther Wan, at the Belafonte lecture.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, prior to the event, I wasn't aware of how involved Harry Belafonte was in the Civil Rights movement. I had only known him as a signer. The song “Shake senora” (as heard in Beetlejuice) and the song “Day-o” were such cheery and fun songs. It was interesting to get to know the more serious side of Belafonte.

Belafonte spoke with such gusto that it startled me. I am sure keeping enthusiasm at that high of a level becomes more difficult with age. Belafonte spoke as if the Civil Rights movement was going on right now and I was really moved by his talk.

Going to the Harry Belafonte lecture was the history lesson I never got in grade school. Belafonte's talk addressed civil rights issues in the 60s to present day concerns. Unlike a regular old history lesson though, Belafonte’s talk was a call to action. He didn't just talk about what problems we are suffering from, he gave suggestions on how to improve ourselves and in turn improve our communities. I always look forward to speakers that are part of the Mondavi Center’s Speaker Series and Belafonte was probably one of my top five favorite events thus far.

The Mondavi Center’s Distinguished Speaker Series continues on February 12 with author Isabel Wilkerson and on May 18 with This American Life host Ira Glass. The conversation with Glass will be moderated by Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket. Visit mondaviarts.org for details.

Bridgétt Rangel-Rexford is the winner of the 2012–13 winner of the Mondavi Center Golden Ticket Social Media Contest. Chosen to be the social media storyteller for our 10th anniversary season, Bridgétt will blog about her experiences at Mondavi Center performances throughout the season. You can also check out her Sun Queen Blog.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Bridgett, glad you enjoyed Mr. Belafonte's talk. But please do your homework before attending an event. I was flabbergasted to find that you weren't familiar with much of what Mr. Belafonte stands for. During his heyday, he was a massive force not only in music and theater but in movies as well.

    In fact, if he had decided to simply turn his cheek and stay out of issues involving civil rights and politics, his star certainly would have risen higher and the extent of his fame burned longer.

    But he is a man of incredible pride, principle and an outspoken advocate for humanity as a whole. His friend Dr. King was killed due to his pursuit for peaceful change in society. And Harry, due to his fierce determination to see fairness and equality was probably black-balled to a point in the entertainment industry.

    I have mixed feelings about Harry. I'm saddened that we could have had the opportunity to listen to much more of his music and watch many more of his film and stage performances had he simply just worked and cashed his checks.

    But on the other hand, I admire him greatly for speaking his mind and for working so fervently to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

    So next blog, check the background on your star first, 'kay?

    By the way, the songs you reference are the Banana Boat Song and Jump in the Line.