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August 28, 1963: Baldwin, Belafonte, Poitier On Civil Rights (Who Would Sit In Their Seats Today?)

August 28, 1963: Baldwin, Belafonte, Poitier On Civil Rights (Who Would Sit In Their Seats Today?)

A worthy and topical flashback, in light of historical events currently being celebrated… 

Dateline August 281963James BaldwinHarry BelafonteSidney Poitier, Marlon BrandoCharlton Heston, and Joseph Mankiewicz discuss the then ongoing Civil Rights Movement, and its meaning.

The roundtable chat was filmed in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963, which also happened to be the day of the March On Washington, and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream” speech. Today marks the 50th anniversary of that day, in case you haven’t heard.

It’s worth noting that all 6 gentlemen participated in the march. 

I watch this and I can’t help but wonder what a panel as eloquent, informed, and engaged as this one would look like today, in 2013. Specifically, what celebs in the same age group as these men were, would fill those 6 seats? Poitier and Belafonte were both 36; Brando and Baldwin were 39; Heston was 40; and Mankiewicz was the old man of the group at 54.

Granted times are different now, but we most certainly aren’t anywhere close to being out of the woods yet.

I also can’t help but be reminded of the so-called “conflict” between Belafonte and Jay-Z over the latter’s seeming lack of interest in socio-political engagement, given his status. Would Jay-Z fill one of those seats today?

Watch the 30-minute conversation, moderated by David Schoenburn, below:

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