The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
June 6, 2024

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders stands out as a prime prospect for the 2025 NFL Draft, and it’s no surprise he's the current favorite...

‘I Am Not Your Negro’ powerfully closes out ACT Human Rights Film Festival

“What would Martin Luther King say about Donald Trump?”

A young man stood up and asked this on behalf of a packed LSC Theater. It was a question that had doubtlessly been asked many times, all across America, since the 2016 election.

Ad

However, it is a rare opportunity to sit in the same room with someone who can answer the question with legitimacy. This was precisely what the bent figure sitting on the theater’s stage could do. At ninety years old, Harry Belafonte did not simply remember seeing Dr. King speak on television, as did so many of his generation. He remembered the words of a close friend.

FullSizeRender.jpg
Harry Belafonte speaks about the film 'I Am Not Your Negro' during CSU's ACT Human Rights Film Festival. Photo credit: Nate Day

The legendary musician and civil rights advocate came to Fort Collins to speak about a film at the ACT Human Rights Film Festival called “I Am Not Your Negro.” The film is a documentary about an unfinished manuscript called “Remember This House,” which is a memoir written by civil rights activist and professor James Baldwin shortly before his death. It chronicles Baldwin’s thoughts on Martin Luther King, Malcom X and Medgar Evers, who were all killed during his lifetime.

“There has been conflict of race in this country as long as there has been race in this country,” Belafonte said. “What has our relationship with history revealed? We sit at a moment, at the time that may bring all our efforts to an end. As a nation, we rewarded all our struggles with a madman as answer to the belief in justice and brotherhood and all other hoods.”

Belafonte continued, answering the question by hearkening back to a time he saw King debate a segregationist.

“This segregationist was an esteemed intellectual, a judge, a professor. Martin said ‘yours is a great intellect. If all this has been at your disposal and it hasn’t convinced you on the incorrectness of your position, what can I possibly say in an hour? All I can do is pray for your soul.’”

Belafonte’s sentiment echoed that of Baldwin’s unfinished writings in the film. A sprawling account of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the documentary juxtaposes footage of fire hoses being turned on black protesters with the more recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri. The film’s implicit message is that we are again at a crossroads when it comes to race relations in America.

Baldwin’s words continually convey the idea that it is not possible for one race to deny freedom to another without harming itself. Racism and the violence it produces are poison both to those who passively accept bigotry.

The film compared imagery from the past and present so seamlessly that Baldwin’s words appeared to be about the present day.

It took Belafonte considerable efforts to reach Fort Collins. He journeyed here anyways to share Baldwin’s message and to remind us that the fight for racial equality still matters in America. As Belafonte said to end the festival’s last night, “The great American question of race will not be settled until we have a square debate on the issue of race and what we do to each other in the name of it.”

Ad

Collegian reporter Ryan Green can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *