LOCARNO, SWITZERLAND – American television, theatre and film actor, singer-songwriter and social activist Harry Belafonte has been given the Pardo Award at the popular Locarno Film Festival in canton Ticino.
The American legend was given a standing ovation 7 August at the Piazza Grande in the middle of Locarno where he thanked the crowd and said he hoped the festival could “perhaps inspire us to do work to sort out the problems of the universe.”
The so-called “King of Calypso” was born 1 March 1927 in New York City and has accumulated a series of successes spanning 50 years.
In his speech, Belafonte talked about being black in Hollywood. Before he starred in Carmen Jones (1954), African-American actors were seen “as not being very creative,” he said. “We were looked upon as being not very important, we were looked upon as people who were a lesser species.”
The actor and activist is well known for his remarks regarding African-Americans in power. He once called General Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, both members of President George Bush’s cabinet “house slaves, lackeys” for “serving those who continue to design our oppression.”
The festival ends 11 August.