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March 22nd, 2013
10:01 AM ET

Remembering Selma: Harry Belafonte and Tony Bennett mark the anniversary of the historic civil rights march

Today marks the anniversary of the third and decisive civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte recruited fellow singer Tony Bennett to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965. They shared their moments with CNN's Chris Cuomo in an interview that aired this morning on "Starting Point."

"The mood was anger," Belafonte tells Cuomo. "The mood was rebellious on the part of the movement, on the part of the civil rights crowd, and the question is: What do we do in the face of this kind of rage and this kind of mayhem? And there was just… the bottom line was that we will go back as often as necessary."

Belafonte says that Dr. King himself enlisted him to bring artists into the civil rights movement, such as Joan Baez, Paul Newman and Marlon Brando. One of Belafonte's first calls was to friend Tony Bennett.

"I said I'm not, I'm walking away from all this," Bennett remembers. "This is just insane, it's so ignorant and but then he told me what went down, what was going down how some blacks were burned, had gasoline thrown on them and they were burned. When I heard that I said 'I'll go with you.' You know I just realized that this is insanity."

"I don't think we had any thought of not moving forward, as a matter of fact that was the only thing we could do or, to completely abandon our movement and just accept the status quo," Belafonte says.

See more from the interview in the clip above. And check out Cuomo's appearance on "Starting Point" this morning, explaining why the Selma anniversary is a good reminder for people to continue to fight for civil rights.

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Filed under: Civil rights • Selma
May 21st, 2012
10:56 AM ET

Rep. Lewis: 'We have an obligation to teach people the way of peace, love and non-violence'

Congressman John Lewis was only twenty five years old when he led the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge that later became known as "Bloody Sunday" because of the brutal attack that ensued against the protesters by police.

In the name of civil rights, Rep. Lewis was arrested more than forty times and endured numerous attacks from angry mobs and law enforcement officers.

The Georgia Democrat shares the lessons he learned from the civil rights movement in his new book "Across that bridge: Life lessons and a vision for change," which he discusses on Starting Point this morning.

Congressman Lewis also rejects the idea that African Americans are opposed to same-sex marriage, and responds to recent laws concerning voting rights passed by various states.

"There is a systematic, deliberate effort to take us back to another period and make it harder and more difficult for young people, seniors and the disabled community to participate in the democratic process," Rep. Lewis says.


Filed under: Civil rights
March 15th, 2012
12:53 PM ET

NYC judge: DNA database has 'potential' to solve crimes quicker, addresses questions of civil rights infringement

New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman talks about how a new plan for a criminal DNA database could help solve crimes quicker. He also addresses some criticism that the DNA database could infringe on one's civil liberties.

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NYC judge: DNA database has 'potential'

New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman on how a new plan for a criminal DNA database could help solve crimes quicker.

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DNA database infringes on liberties?

New York chief Judge Jonathan Lippman responds to criticism on a new plan for an expansive DNA database for criminals.


Filed under: Civil rights • Crime
March 2nd, 2012
08:41 AM ET

Rep. John Lewis & Kerry Kennedy on controversial voter ID legislation – Is it an attempt to 'get people to self-deport'?

This weekend, Congressman John Lewis, Kerry Kennedy and almost forty others, will go on a "pilgrimage" in Alabama to protest the state's controversial voter ID legislation.

Representative Lewis has a history with civil rights advocacy. On March 7, 1965, a day that later became known as "Bloody Sunday," Lewis led over six hundred peaceful protesters on a fifty-four mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol. The protesters were met and attacked at the end of the Edmund Pettus Bridge by armed police officers.

Kerry Kennedy and Rep. Lewis join Soledad O'Brien today to discuss Alabama's new law and the historic day "Bloody Sunday."


Filed under: Civil rights • Politics