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Home Arts & Entertainment Originally published August 30, 2013

Black Stars Chastised for Lack of Presence at March Celebration

by Zenitha Prince
Special to the AFRO

    Jamie Foxx implored his fellow entertainers to get involved in the freedom movement. (AFRO File Photo/Rob Roberts)
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Actor Jamie Foxx called out modern-day Black entertainers, urging them to carry on the torch lit by civil rights leaders of yesteryear during his speech at the commemoration of the March on Washington on Aug. 28.

In his three-minute speech to the crowd gathered before the Lincoln Memorial, Foxx shared a story about a dinner meeting between the actor, his daughter and Harry Belafonte, who shared insights about his involvement in the civil rights movement.

Moved by the memory of the emotional experience and by Belafonte’s dedication, Foxx called on his celebrity peers to become the new generation of activists and change-agents.

“What we need to do now, the young folks pick it up now so that when we’re 87 years old talking to the other young folks, we can say it was me, Will Smith, Jay Z, Kanye [West], Alicia Keys, Kerry Washington… the list goes on. Don’t make me start preaching up here,” he said.

“Everybody my age and all of the entertainers,” he added, “it’s time for us to stand up now and renew this dream.”

Black contemporary entertainers such as Alicia Keys, Kerry Washington and John Legend are well-known for their political involvement and philanthropic giving on a national and international stage.

But Belafonte, a Hollywood heavyweight and veteran activist, recently lambasted Jay-Z and his megastar wife Beyoncé for their lack of philanthropy and social responsibility.

His response to Belafonte’s criticism was that his “presence is charity,” referring to his rise from a life of poverty in the projects to superstardom. He also compared himself to President Obama, whose very existence inspired hope, he said.

In the interview with The Truth’s Elliott Wilson, Jay-Z also said he was offended by Belafonte’s statements.

“I felt like Belafonte just went about it wrong. The way he did it, within the media, and then he bigged up Bruce Springsteen. It was like, ‘Whoa, you just sent the wrong message all around. You just bigged up the White guy against me in the White media.’ I’m not saying that in a racial way. I’m saying what it was just the wrong way to go about it,” Jay Z said.