Belafonte Stands by Criticism of Powell
Last Updated: October 11, 2002 07:22 PM ET
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer Harry Belafonte said
on Friday he stands by remarks likening Secretary of State
Colin Powell to a plantation slave who is "serving his master
well" but insisted he never meant to defame the former
"This was not a personal attack on Colin Powell," Belafonte
said in a statement issued through his New York-based
publicist. "However ... speaking on behalf of so many
African American citizens, I have found Colin Powell to be a tragic failure."
Belafonte, 75, who like Powell is a black man of Jamaican descent, responded in
racially charged terms when asked during a radio interview on Tuesday about
Powell's position in the debate over possible U.S. military force against Iraq.
"...there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and there were those slaves
that lived in the house," Belafonte said in the interview. "You got the privilege of
living in the house if you served the master exactly the way the master intended to
have you serve him. Colin Powell's committed to come into the house of the master."
Reacting to Belafonte's remarks a day later on CNN's "Larry King Live," Powell
said the singer's slave reference was "unfortunate" and a "throwback to another time
and another place that I wish Harry had thought twice about using."
In his follow-up statement on Friday, Belafonte said he did not "intend to defame ...
Powell as an individual." But he went on to largely repeat his criticism of the Cabinet
In characterizing Powell as "serving his master well," Belafonte said, he was referring
to President Bush.
"My analogy to the plantation existence I say without regret, and maintain that the
overwhelming majority of black people in this country agree that the impending war
with Iraq is a colossal mistake," the entertainer said.
Belafonte, who popularized calypso music with such 1950s hits as "Banana Boat
(Day-O)" and "Jamaica Farewell," is performing this weekend in San Diego.