Susanne Rostock’s Sing Your Song, an HBO documentary that will air on Monday, and My Song, a new memoir just published by Knopf, allow one of American popular culture’s most seminal figures to take a retrospective look at his own career. If the HBO film, peppered with tantalizing archival footage, offers a whirlwind tour of the 84-year-old Belafonte’s legacy, My Song’s more than 400 pages allows him to be more reflective. What emerges from both the documentary and the memoir is that, despite Belafonte’s association with iconic ‘60s figures such as the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr., his political consciousness was irrevocably formed by the ferment of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and his admiration for two major figures of that era who eventually became friends: Paul Robeson, the brilliant actor and singer whose leftist views eventually made him a pariah in Cold War America, and Eleanor Roosevelt, whose commitment to civil rights and other social movements positioned her considerably to the left of her more pragmatic husband.

Like the Dew adds: Harry Belafonte will talk about his memoirs at the Carter Center in Atlanta on Nov. 16.

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