Thursday, October 17, 2002

Museum: Belafonte's comments not our view

By Marilyn Bauer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Artist and activist Harry Belafonte's comments about Cincinnati on Larry King Live Tuesday night were the subject of heated debate Wednesday.

Mr. Belafonte, explaining his accusation that Secretary of State Colin Powell is an Uncle Tom, went on to compare Cincinnati to a slave plantation and implicated local leaders in perpetuating and designing ongoing oppression

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, where Mr. Belafonte is a board member and co-chair of the capital fund-raising campaign, issued a statement saying Mr. Belafonte's comments "do not reflect the views of the Freedom Center. We have not spoken with Mr. Belafonte in some time but hope there will be a reconciliation between him and Mr. Powell."

Freedom Center board member Barbara Gould said she understood Mr. Belafonte's analogy.

"There is a perception among some that the establishment wants to - I believe the phrase the mayor (Charlie Luken) used was - `return to the way things were.' That's not acceptable. Without justice there is no peace. Justice involves economic opportunity and a leveling of the economic playing field."

Joe Hale, a Cinergy vice president and a member of the Freedom Center board, disagreed with Mr. Belafonte. . "Elected individuals and civic leaders have made it a priority to develop a plan that will both lift the people who live in Over-the-Rhine out of poverty and at the same time not displace them," he said.


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