Belafonte on King Day: US has lost ‘moral compass’

January 20, 2014 • Entertainment

People from around Saginaw, walk down Genesee Street to celebrate the annual Martin Luther King Jr. march, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, that started at the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy and ended at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Mich. (AP Photo/The Saginaw News, Neil Barris)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Singer and activist Harry Belafonte marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a sober assessment of the state the nation and its evolution since King’s slaying 45 years [auth] ago.

Belafonte’s address Monday morning at the University of Michigan was one of many events around Michigan honoring the slain civil rights pioneer.

“I’m not too sure where America is at this moment,” he said at the 28th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium at the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. “We seem to have lost our moral compass . if we ever had one.”

Wealthy conservatives have corrupted the nation’s politics with their moves “to buy institutions, to buy governments, to buy elected officials and overthrow local government,” he said. “They’ve changed state governments, changed the voting rules, gerrymandered districts and they’ve begun to put back those rules, those cruelties, that we so valiantly struggled against.”

The criminal justice system is part of the new shape of race relations in America, he said.

In Lansing, Gov. Rick Snyder participated in a luncheon honoring King. Snyder said King’s “message of equality, tolerance and peace brought millions together to help reinvent the culture of our country for the better.”

“He was tragically taken from us too soon, but this is the day each year we honor his memory and the legacy of his work,” Snyder said.

Detroit’s observances included a MLK Day Rally & March starting at Central United Methodist Church. Saginaw marked the day with a march from the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy to the Dow Event Center.

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