Harry Belafonte, the legendary singer, actor, and civil rights activist, passed away on 25th April 2023, at the age of 96. Belafonte was a true icon of the 20th century, using his platform to fight against racism, poverty, and inequality, and to promote peace and justice around the world.
Belafonte was born to Jamaican parents in Harlem, New York City, in 1927. He grew up in poverty and faced racism and discrimination from an early age. Despite these challenges, he developed a love of music and began performing in clubs and cafes in the 1940s.
In 1953, Belafonte released his first album, “Calypso,” which quickly became a best-seller and made him a household name. The album featured his signature song, “Banana Boat Song (Day-O),” which became one of the most famous and beloved songs of the era.
Belafonte’s success as a musician allowed him to become a trailblazer for civil rights and social justice. He was a close friend and collaborator of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and he played a key role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
Belafonte used his celebrity status to raise awareness and funds for various causes, including the civil rights movement, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and humanitarian efforts in Africa and other parts of the world.
He was also a passionate advocate for peace and was instrumental in bringing attention to the dangers of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Belafonte famously convinced President John F. Kennedy to call a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the issue of nuclear disarmament, which led to the creation of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963.
Belafonte’s activism and philanthropy continued throughout his life. He founded the Harold and Wilma Belafonte Foundation, which provides funding for various social and political causes, and he was involved with numerous organizations, including the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and UNICEF.
Acting Career of Belafonte
In addition to his music and activism, Belafonte was also a successful actor, appearing in numerous films and television shows throughout his career. He received critical acclaim for his roles in movies like “Carmen Jones,” “Island in the Sun,” and “The World, the Flesh and the Devil.”
Belafonte’s legacy as a musician, activist, and cultural icon is immense. He was awarded numerous accolades throughout his life, including the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Belafonte’s impact on popular culture cannot be overstated. He helped to bring calypso music and Caribbean culture to the mainstream, and he paved the way for generations of Black musicians and activists who followed in his footsteps.
In a statement following his passing, Belafonte’s family said, “Harry Belafonte, singer, actor, activist, and humanitarian, passed away peacefully at home on April 25th, 2023, at 96. He was one of the great cultural icons of the 20th century, and his legacy will continue to inspire and empower people around the world.”
Belafonte’s life and work remind us of the power of art and activism to effect change and bring people together. His music and his message will continue to resonate for generations to come, and his influence will be felt for years to come. Rest in power, Harry Belafonte.