Belafonte, Streisand, Cosby, Alpert at the Hollywood Bowl

Los Angeles, California

July 17, 1968

Hollywood Bowl poster 1968

When Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy succeeded him as Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) president.

This all-star concert — with ticket prices ranging from $4.75 to $25 — benefitted the SCLC and raised $142,000.

Streisand backstage with Abernathy, Cosby and Belafonte


After the intermission, Harry Belafonte (and orchestra) introduced the SCL's leader, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, and reminded the audience of the seriousness of the evening. “A few nights ago,” Belafonte said, “Bobby Kennedy was murdered in this city. And a few weeks before that a black man named Martin Luther King was killed.”

Streisand at the Bowl, backstage

Belafonte, speaking passionately from the stage, urged the audience “to take up the banner not only of the civil rights movement but of the human movement.”

Newspaper clipping about the 1968 concert

Barbra Streisand had the last spot of the evening. Barbra wore a gorgeous, green peacock gown, and when she came on stage she admitted to audience, “I'm not pregnant,” which elicited laughs.

She sang “People” (it was midnight by then), center stage in a blue spotlight. She ended by saying she was “proud to be here to contribute what I can.”

48 years later, the SCLC’s Andrew Young told The Hollywood Reporter that “Chauncey Eskridge, who was Muhammad Ali’s attorney, arranged for us to hear [Streisand] sing at a club in Chicago. We were very impressed. I remember when we left, Martin said, ‘How come we’ve never heard of this woman with this great voice?’ ”

Streisand, who'd been filming the parade scene for Hello, Dolly! that week, rehearsed for this concert till 12:30 a.m. the night before.

Below: Belafonte, Streisand, Rev. Abernathy and his wife, Juanita Jones Abernathy, and Bill Cosby.

Belafonte, Streisand, Abernathy, wife, and Cosby


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