Entertainment Icon & Human Rights Activist Harry Belafonte dies at 96 - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Entertainment Icon & Human Rights Activist Harry Belafonte dies at 96

Credit: Pamela Frank

Harry Belafonte is a legendary musician, actor, and civil rights activist who has been a prominent figure in African American culture for over six decades. Born in Harlem, New York, in 1927, Belafonte grew up in poverty and faced discrimination and racism from an early age. Despite this, he became one of the most successful and influential artists of his time, using his fame to fight for social justice and human rights.

Belafonte was known for his powerful and emotive voice, which he used to convey messages of hope and unity to audiences around the world. He was a champion of African American culture and used his platform to highlight the struggles faced by his community. 

Belafonte was a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and played a key role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He helped to organize the March on Washington in 1963, and was one of the speakers at the historic event. Belafonte has also been involved in humanitarian work around the world, and has been an advocate for many causes, including HIV/AIDS awareness and child welfare.

Belafonte's activism was not limited to his music career. He was a vocal opponent of apartheid in South Africa and supported the anti-apartheid movement through his activism and financial contributions. He was also a strong supporter of the Black Panther Party and helped to fund their free breakfast program for children.

Belafonte was a trailblazer in Hollywood, paving the way for other African American actors and actresses. He starred in numerous films, including "Carmen Jones" and "Island in the Sun," and was the first African American to win an Emmy Award for his performance in "An Evening with Belafonte." He also hosted his own television show, "The Harry Belafonte Show," which featured performances from African American artists and musicians.

Despite his many accomplishments, Belafonte never forgot his roots and remained committed to his community throughout his life. He once said, "I was born in Harlem, raised in Jamaica, and I have a very clear and distinct understanding of what it means to be an African American in this country." He believed in the power of music to bring people together and to inspire change, and his legacy continues to inspire generations of African Americans.

In addition, Belafonte once said, "You can cage the singer but not the song. The song remains." This quote highlights his belief that even when people are oppressed, their voices and messages of hope cannot be silenced. Belafonte's commitment to using his voice and platform to fight for social justice and human rights is a testament to his enduring legacy as an African American icon.


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