Eartha Kitt’s Legacy Is Still Complex

Eartha Kitt
Leslie Taylor-Grover
April 8, 2021

Eartha Kitt came from humble beginnings, but by the time she made it to the spotlight, some would say she needed to humble herself. Her talent earned her fame and money, so she was invited to the White House with other rich Black people to talk to the president. And then it happened.

When she was asked her opinion about juvenile delinquency, she refused to hold her tongue! She told the president and his wife that his policies were at the root of many of the problems our country was facing at the time, including the war! Kitt’s career tanked, but her story doesn’t end there.

She moved to Europe and performed internationally, which caused her more trouble. She didn’t use her voice to speak up for problems such as apartheid, and she often used her fame for special traveling privileges. But there’s more.

She returned to the U.S., where she revamped her career. Kitt kept speaking out on behalf of our people and other marginalized groups. But the question remains: was she problematic or not?

She was complex – like us all. Kitt did not allow her wealth or her Blackness to keep her from speaking truth to power. Instead, she was honest about the problems in this country. We must remember that wherever we speak out against oppression, white supremacy loses its foothold!

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