Harry Belafonte, a groundbreaking actor and singer who became an activist, humanitarian and conscience of the world, has died at the age of 96 due to congestive heart failure.
A major artist since the 1950s, Belafonte won a Tony Award in 1954 for his starring role in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac. His 1955 album “Calypso” became the first officially certified million-selling album by a solo performer, and launched a national infatuation with Caribbean music.
And in 1959, he became the first Black performer to win a Primetime Emmy for his TV special, “Tonight with Harry Belafonte.”
Harry Belafonte, the civil rights and entertainment giant who began as a groundbreaking actor and singer and became an activist, humanitarian and conscience of the world, has died. He was 96. https://t.co/oVP7Zfxyrn pic.twitter.com/FTIsFQ42UZ
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 25, 2023
Via AP News:
With his glowing, handsome face and silky-husky voice, Belafonte was one of the first Black performers to gain a wide following on film and to sell a million records as a singer; many still know him for his signature hit “Banana Boat Song (Day-O),” and its call of “Day-O! Daaaaay-O.”
But he forged a greater legacy once he scaled back his performing career in the 1960s and lived out his hero Paul Robeson’s decree that artists are “gatekeepers of truth.”
Belafonte stands as the model and the epitome of the celebrity activist. Few kept up with his time and commitment and none his stature as a meeting point among Hollywood, Washington and the Civil Rights Movement.
There’s almost no way to fully do justice to Belafonte’s selfless dedication to equal rights and humanitarian causes. The man was, quite simply, a giant.
Over the course of his storied career, he was honored with the motion picture academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, a National Medal of Arts, a Grammy for lifetime achievement and numerous other honorary prizes.
Read more about the “activist who happened to be an artist” here
Rest in power, Harry Belafonte. Thank you for making so much possible for so many.
Harry Belafonte was a barrier-breaking legend who used his platform to lift others up. He lived a good life – transforming the arts while also standing up for civil rights. And he did it all with his signature smile and style. Michelle and I send our love to his wife, kids, and… pic.twitter.com/g77XCr9U5b
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 25, 2023
Harry Belafonte spent 96 years breaking down barriers, bridging divides, and standing up for what he believed. His art and activism changed America and the world forever. I’ll always be honored to have known him. pic.twitter.com/xQuOhdk2MH
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) April 25, 2023
Archival Video: Harry Belafonte sits with Senator John F. Kennedy and endorses him for President in 1960.pic.twitter.com/Y3C92FnTq0
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) April 25, 2023
Today we honor and remember the life of our friend, Harry Belafonte. Take a moment with us to reflect and honor his legacy and enjoy this Sesame Street classic. pic.twitter.com/MwLJDc4kt5
— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) April 25, 2023
Harry Belafonte, the singer, actor and activist who became an indispensable supporter of the civil rights movement, has died at age 96.
"I was an activist long before I became an artist," he once said. "They both service each other, but the activism is first." pic.twitter.com/wJ4nbiScyW
— The Advocate (@TheAdvocateMag) April 25, 2023