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Belafonte and MSNBC's Hayes Invoke Emmett Till Murder Over Trayvon Martin Shooting

Media Research CenterAs singer and liberal activist Harry Belafonte appeared as a guest on Friday's All In show, MSNBC host Chris Hayes brought up Civil Rights Movement-era murder victim Emmett Till and wondered if Trayvon Martin's death would have a similar "catalyzing effect" in a "civil rights struggle."

While both acknowledged that the circumstances were different, Belafonte lumped in Trayvon Martin as having been "murdered" and observed:

Although there are different sets of circumstances under which both of these young men were murdered, I think that there is one thing that's a common thread, and that is the issue of race.

He added:

I don't think either Emmett Till, nor what happened to young Trayvon Martin, would have happened had these young citizens not been citizens of color. So, from that point of view, there is a consistency to the way in which America handles the issue of race.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, July 26, All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC:

CHRIS HAYES: Mr. Belafonte, you have been involved in the civil rights struggle for quite some time, and there are some people who have talked about the death of Emmett Till and the catalyzing effect that death of a young black man in which justice was not done and have talked about the catalyzing effect of Trayvon Martin's death.

And, obviously, there is a very wide difference between the specific set of circumstances and historical circumstances of those two deaths, but do you see this moment around the death of Trayvon Martin as a catalyzing moment?

HARRY BELAFONTE: Well, let me just make an observation that although there are different sets of circumstances under which both of these young men were murdered, I think that there is one thing that's a common thread, and that is the issue of race. I don't think either Emmett Till, nor what happened to young Trayvon Martin, would have happened had these young citizens not been citizens of color.

So, from that point of view, there is a consistency to the way in which America handles the issue of race. And when you find, what is essentially different from Emmett Till is that there was not a legal mechanism in place that justified the death of Emmett Till. There was a legal mechanism in place that the work of the justification, or at least tried to declare that it was justified in taking Trayvon's life, and I think that we have come to a place now when this issue of taking life in the name of issues of race has got to be identified for what it is and we have to step to the plate.

And let me just make another observation. There is a nation that is here waiting to ascertain how what is going on here in Florida is to be defined in relationship to its future. I'm one of those catalysts of definition. I've come down to put the disposal of the young people here, not only the history from whence we have come, but also to offer a host of artists who are high-profile, a number of leaders who are very high-profile who are waiting to hear, how do we look at the strategy for the immediate future? And part of my visit here is not just to show support for the demonstrations that are going on and continue, but it is also to ascertain what is the larger strategy to all of this, and to get to the table of debate?

-- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center