My Song: A Memoir
By Harry Belafonte with Michael Shnayerson
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Knopf (October 11, 2011)
Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1.6 inches
Book Reviewed by Robert Fleming
My Song: A Memoir is the story of a blessed life, that of Harry
Belafonte, the mythic musician, actor, humanitarian, and social activist.
With the assistance of Michael Shnayerson, a frequent contributor to Vanity
Fair, this glorious account of an Old School brother, who has used his time
and energy well to enable most of the human rights campaigns for a half
century, came from a host of stories that could not be elaborated in his
recent HBO bio-documentary, "Sing Your Song."
Belafonte doesn't spare himself as an artist, or husband, in
his reflections. He's most candid about both his personal and professional
matters. In the 1960s, he supported the African freedom movements. In the
1980s, he helped organize the star-saturated "We Are The World" single and
coaxed radio stations to play the song globally and at the same time. He
raised funds for famine relief in central Africa, spoke out against
apartheid very early on, and hosted President Mandela on his visit to America. Domestically, he has campaigned for gun control, truces between
major street gangs, and rallied federal funds for education.
"I believe my time was a remarkable one," Belafonte writes. "I am aware that we now live in a world overrun by cruelty and destruction, and our earth disintegrates and our spirits numb, we lose moral purpose and creative vision. But still I must believe, as I always have, that our best times lie ahead, and that in the final analysis, along the way we shall be comforted by one another. That is my song."
Spiritual, lucid, realistic, Belafonte's memoir should be on everybody's must-read list. It's not only the shining story of a masterful Black man, but a human being who has spent his days in thankless service to those poor, neglected and unfortunate. What an incredible life!