Watch Harry Belafonte's Emotional Acceptance Speech at the Governors Awards

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Harry Belafonte speaks at the Governors Awards as presenter Susan Sarandon, right, watches

Screen legend Sidney Poitier joined him on stage, eliciting a huge response from the crowd

While accepting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award on Saturday night, Harry Belafonte gave a powerful speech about the ability of film to enact social change.

Speaking at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' sixth annual Governors Awards, Belafonte addressed the hatred that was spread by such early films as The Birth of a Nation.

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"But these encounters set other things in motion," he said. "It was an early stimulus to the beginning of my rebellion — rebellion against injustice and human distortion and hate."

He praised such film as Schindler's List, Brokeback Mountain and 12 Years a Slave for giving us "deeper insights into human existence."

Receiving this award "powerfully mutes the enemies' thunder," the 87-year-old singer and activist said before inviting Sidney Poitier to join him on stage.

See his full speech in the video below. 

Twitter: @_RyanGajewski