*Legendary actor/singer and human rights activist Harry Belafonte was recognized and honored with the NAACP Spingarn Medal. Each year the civil rights organization acknowledges African Americans who have made strides toward human equality.
In his acceptance speech, Belafonte, 85, condemned gun violence and chastised political leaders for keeping silent so long.
“Where are the outraged voices?” he asked.
He also reflected on his last meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, days before he was killed.
History of Freedom Rides, protests and racial challenges echoed in his speech as he reminded the crowd of the journey still ahead.
“America will never become what it needs to be until we are truly free,” he said.
NAACP president Benjamin Jealous celebrated Belafonte at the Image Awards that took place earlier this month.
“Mr. Belafonte has never been afraid to speak his mind, even when it might have put his career in danger,” Jealous said. “His combination of charisma and courage, artistic talent and intellectual prowess has made him an icon for the ages and a powerful ally for civil and human rights advocates across the globe.”
The actor and activist is the 97th recipient of the medal. Previous honorees include Cicely Tyson, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, and Colin Powell.