Note: Yesterday Harry Belafonte, the civil rights activist, singer and actor, passed away at age 96. In his memory, we’re bringing back a post from our archive, one that features Belafonte and other legends discussing the March on Washington, back in August, 1963. The film above is now made available by the US National Archives.
On the day of the historic “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” (August 28, 1963), known today as The Great March on Washington, CBS aired a 30-minute roundtable discussion featuring Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Sidney Poitier.
The whole segment is fascinating, even and perhaps especially because the speakers pursue their sometimes divergent agendas (Heston speaks optimistically about peaceful dissent, Brando hopes the Civil Rights movement may lead to reparations for Native Americans, while Belafonte warns ominously that the United States has now reached a “point of no return”). But it may be Joseph Mankiewicz, the sharp-witted writer/director of All About Eve, who provides one of the discussion’s pithiest lines: “Freedom, true freedom,” he says, “is not given by governments; it is taken by the people.”
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