After Criticizing Bush, Harry Belafonte Says he was Disinvited from Delivering Eulogy at the Coretta Scott King Funeral

From, this is one of the most moving reflections on Mrs. King’s funeral that I have seen. Belafonte was invited to speak at Coretta Scott King’s funeral, but was dis-invited when President George W., Bush confirmed his attendance. In sagacious fashion, Belafonte avoids blanket condemnation for his dis-invitation and the co-opting of the King legacy by the religious right and the political status quo. He instead points to critical reflection and communal accountability for the ways in which we have allowed ourselves to lose sight of ultimate goal of liberation.

“Some ministers who were quite angry at all of this said, “Come on down here. Let’s — let’s — We have to talk to the press,” and I said, “Talk to the press about what?” “About this. We cannot let it stand.” I said, “I don’t think that’s appropriate. These are the children of my friend. These are the children of the movement. Where did we let them get caught? Why was Bernice giving this kind of sermon? How did you let Reverend Long become the minister of choice? Why wasn’t it at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King preached? And before we go public and begin to vent our anger, let us understand what role we played in this capitulation that has led to this moment, and let us try first to repair it rather than to go into public discourse.”

“When do we sit in a circle of healing? When we begin to talk about getting back to where we lost stride. How do we fix this? Not how do we play the vanity game, and get off on going public and talking about how I was crucified.”

“What role have we played in letting all this happen? Where were we? What were we doing that had us so distracted? How can it be this way? How did you priests and ministers let the evangelical rightwing Christian forces co-opt the greater truth about Christianity and the philosophy of liberation? And how did you all let that happen, and where are your voices in opposition publicly?”

“Everybody has a part in this. Everybody has something to look at, and I think it is a collective experience, and that’s why I think rather than sitting here drifting, we’ve got to talk about this, not just where we failed and where you failed, and we’ve got to come out of this discourse and this discussion, not just talking about it but saying, “Here’s where we go,” and take courage in the fact that we can turn this around, because the truth of the matter is we are the only ones that can turn this around. Nothing and no one else can do it. Nothing.”