I remember well meeting Harry Belafonte, along with Coretta Scott King, at a peace rally in Bonn, West Germany, in the “hot autumn” of ’81 — October 10, 1981, to be precise. A truly remarkable human being, dedicated social justice warrior, musician, singer, actor, and friend to all, Harry inspired anyone who came in contact with him. When he took my outstretched hand and welcomed me as a “fellow American” and “peace and justice warrior,” I knew I had made a friend for life. Though he has moved onto another place, after 96 years of life among the living, Harry Belafonte will live on in my heart and mind.
So, what made 1981 a “hot autumn”? It was the fact that Reagan administration cabinet and sub-cabinet members openly said they were “preparing to fight and win” a “limited nuclear war” in central Europe. The popular pushback was incredible to experience firsthand. Some 300,000 folks showed up that day in Bonn, and millions more across Europe poured into the streets in the following days and weeks — including another rally I attended in Rome, where 500,000+ turned out. To this day, I truly believe that peace activists across Europe and around the world, in 1981, preempted what easily could have turned into a nuclear nightmare.
Thank you Harry, for your everlasting radical hospitality, radical hope, and radical love!