Last year, he placed himself at the center of debates about the obligations—if any—of today’s black artists, when he named Jay Z and Beyoncé among celebrities who he said had “turned their back on social responsibility.”
“No one has been spared this man’s social criticism,” noted master of ceremonies and New York Undercover actor Malik Yoba. He accepted, on behalf of the fraternity, Belafonte’s call to action and his stance that “Men, who created violence against women are the ones who should end violence against women.”
Belafonte’s remarks also asked the men to direct their attention to criminal justice and racial disparities in policing and incarceration.
“If you look at what’s happening to our young people, and the rapid growth of the prison system, and the fact that almost 90 percent of all the men and women serving in the prison systems in America are people of color,” he said, ” I don’t think we can just sit by and let that statistic linger.”
Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root’s senior staff writer. Follow her on Twitter.