Harry Belafonte, the iconic singer, actor, and civil rights activist, died on tuesday, at the age of 96. His death marked the end of an era for many who saw him as a trailblazer and barrier-breaker in the entertainment industry and beyond.
Harry Belafonte Dies At 96; Barrier-Breaking Singer, Actor and Activist
Belafonte was born in Harlem in 1927 to Jamaican immigrant parents. He grew up in poverty but developed a passion for music and the arts at an early age. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Belafonte began his career as a singer and soon became one of the most popular performers of his time.
Belafonte’s music was unique in that it blended elements of folk, pop, and jazz with traditional Caribbean rhythms. He was also known for his powerful and emotive voice, which he used to great effect in songs like “Day-O” (The Banana Boat Song), “Jamaica Farewell,” and “Matilda.”
In addition to his music, Belafonte was also a talented actor, appearing in films like “Carmen Jones,” “Island in the Sun,” and “Buck and the Preacher.” He was one of the first African American actors to play leading roles in Hollywood films, breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations of Black actors.
But Belafonte’s legacy extends far beyond his music and acting career. He was also a passionate advocate for civil rights and social justice, using his platform to speak out against racism and inequality. He was a close friend and supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and helped to organize the historic March on Washington in 1963.
Belafonte continued to be active in politics and social activism throughout his life. He was a vocal critic of the Iraq War and the Bush administration, and was a strong supporter of President Obama and his policies.