The Harlem Gospel Choir just cancelled their performance as part of Glenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater, a live performance that's scheduled to be broadcast in movie theaters across the country this Thursday.
The Harlem Gospel Choir has backed out of a holiday performance with controversial conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck, the Daily News has learned.
The famous choir, which has performed for Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II, was set to appear in the simulcast film of Beck's novel The Christmas Sweater -- A Return to Redemption, which opens Thursday in theaters nationwide.
The choir canceled the appearance Monday, citing financial reasons.
James Rucker, executive director of Color for Change -- which has helped persuade more than 80 advertisers to ditch Beck's show -- said the group did an about-face after he called the choir.
Before we contacted the Harlem Gospel Choir about Beck, they didn't know much about him. After learning more about Beck and his history of race-baiting, the choir quickly came to the right decision and canceled their appearance with him.
The choir told the Daily News that their reasons for canceling with Beck were financial, and it's understandable that they would want to avoid getting involved in what could be seen as a political fight -- the choir is about faith and music, not politics. And it's hard to blame them for wanting to avoid starting a fight with Glenn Beck -- he is a powerful man with a large megaphone and a large audience that includes some very hateful people (based on some of the email we've received after launching our campaign against Beck, we know this first-hand at ColorOfChange).
The Christmas Sweater is part of Beck's effort to present himself as someone who represents mainstream American values. His desire to work with the Harlem Gospel Choir serves that goal, and it would have helped him position himself as embracing black people while his rhetoric works against the interests of not only black folks but most Americans.
That's what makes the Harlem Gospel Choir's refusal to perform with Beck so important -- they are world-famous for spreading a message of peace, love, unity and respect. They've performed for Nelson Mandela, in honor of Dr. King, and before Pope John Paul II. They have proudly represented one of black America's oldest musical traditions around the world, and now they have refused to allow their name and their legacy to be used by someone like Glenn Beck.
Follow James Rucker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jrucker