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Belafonte Comes To Duke, Talks About Friendship With MLK

Posted January 16, 2006

— A week after calling President George W. Bush a tyrant and a terrorist, celebrity Harry Belafonte came to Durham.

Belafonte came to Duke University Sunday to talk about his close friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his struggles and contributions during the civil rights era.

"I don't think we could have accomplished what we did without their contribution," he said.

Last week when Belafonte was in Venezuela, side by side with President Hugo Chavez, he labeled President Bush as a tyrant and terrorist.

"No matter what the biggest tyrant, what the biggest terrorist in the world George W. Bush says...," Belafonte said as he went on to claim Americans support Venezuela.

On Sunday, Belafonte did not back off his terrorist accusations against Bush.

"I don't live by consensus. And when I talk about Bush, in the dictionary under terrorists there are many different subtitles and ... if people are coming to open your mail and tap your phones, and the people of Katrina are desperate for help and they are not getting it from the most powerful man in the world, he has brought terror in the hearts of people and in the dictionary anyone who brings fear is bringing terrorism and is a terrorist," he said.

At least one student group sent out e-mails protesting Belafonte's appearance, but there was no active protest during the speech.

At one point, Durham Mayor Bill Bell presented Belafonte with a key to the city. Duke officials said despite some protest, they did not consider canceling Belafonte's speech. It was booked months in advance of Belafonte's visit to Venezuela.


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