Ain’t singin’ for da man 

U.S. Rep. John Conyers and singer-activist Harry Belafonte want to know what you’re doing from 9 to 5 this Saturdaaayo.

Sorry, we couldn’t help it.

Conyers’ office, along with the Institute for Policy Studies (a progressive think tank), is hosting a seminar called “Shape the Debate.” The intent is to help influence which issues take center stage during the 2004 presidential campaign.

The eight-hour workshop at Detroit’s Martin Luther King Jr. High School aims to build what Conyers calls a “people’s agenda” by providing direction for those who want to get involved in the political process.

The “people” Conyers refers to are African-Americans, women, minorities and the working class.

The whole idea, he says, is to get people geared up for the Michigan Democratic Caucus on Feb. 7 and then keep that momentum going to the big showdown in November.

Detroit is second of 10 cities where similar events will be held.

Other speakers will include Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit Public Schools CEO Dr. Kenneth Burnley and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick.

Asked why he selected Belafonte to deliver the keynote address, Conyers says the entertainer will pull people in and then motivate them. Besides, Conyers says, Belafonte “wants anybody but Bush” to be president.

Works for us.

Belafonte has a reputation for taking an active role in civic affairs. An outspoken social critic who was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr.’s, and the first recipient of the Nelson Mandela Courage Award, he wielded his detractor’s sword on Secretary of State Colin Powell last year, likening him to the proverbial house slave who is favored by his master.

Master Dubya, that is. Suffice it to say Belafonte is not coming to perform any updated renditions of “The Banana Boat Song.”

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