Harry Belafonte, an elegant actor, talented singer and activist, has died, according to the New York Times. Belafonte was best known for his dashing good looks and golden voice, but he was also devoted to eliminating the struggles of Black people worldwide.
Harry Belafonte was born March 1, 1927, in New York, NY., and was raised in Harlem by his Jamaican-born parents. Belafonte began his singing career in the late 1940s and found fame in the 1950s, with his signature track, “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” exploding onto the charts, which remains a timeless classic to this day.
Belafonte is survived by his wife, Pamela, who was by his side when he passed, and his children, Adrienne Belafonte Biesemeyer, Shari Belafonte, Gina Belafonte, David Belafonte and two stepchildren Sarah Frank and Lindsey Frank. Belafonte also leaves behind eight grandchildren.
Now a word from Belafonte’s publicist:
Known globally for both for his artistic ingenuity and humanitarian ideals, Belafonte became an early, vocal supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, a confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and financial backer of countless historic political and social causes and events, including the anti-Apartheid Movement, equal rights for women, juvenile justice, climate change and the decolonization of Africa. He was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington and led a delegation of Hollywood luminaries including his best friend Sidney Poitier, as well as Paul Newman, Sammy Davis Jr., Marlon Brando, Rita Moreno, Tony Curtis, James Baldwin, Burt Lancaster, Joanne Woodward, Diahann Carrol, Bob Dylan, Mahalia Jackson, Peter, Paul and Mary and Joan Baez, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis and Tony Curtis.
To try and capture all the amazing things Belafonte did in his lifetime would nearly be impossible, but what should be noted is that Belafonte never tired of seeking justice for his people and all those oppressed around the world.
Belafonte was also decorated heavily within the arts, winning three Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement trophy, a Primetime Emmy Award and a Tony Award. Belafonte also won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2014, completing the coveted EGOT honor.
“Harry Belafonte is one of the greatest social activists and freedom fighters ever to have lived,” said Cathy Hughes, Chairwoman & Founder of Urban One Inc. “Humanity has just suffered a significant wound to its consciousness.”
Beyond the stage, film and music, Belafonte also guest-starred on several television shows. His final film role occurred via Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman in 2018.
Harry Belafonte was 96.