NEW YORK – As he considered his growing commitment to activism, Usher only needed to look at the man seated next to him, Harry Belafonte, to know how much more he could give.
During an hourlong conversation this weekend moderated by Soledad O’Brien, the 37-year-old Usher and 88-year-old Belafonte related with obvious warmth to each other as fellow artists, activists and celebrities and as elder statesman and protege.
Usher called Belafonte a hero, mentor and father figure. And Belafonte spoke far more positively about young black celebrities than he did two years ago when he chastised Jay Z, Beyonce and others for turning “their back on social responsibility.”
At the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, Jay Z was in the audience nodding his head as Belafonte praised him, Usher and Common for renewing a commitment to change after a “very me” generation immediately following the civil rights era.