Thursday, May 30

Harry Belafonte, activist and entertainer, dies at 96

NEW YORK (AP) — Harry Belafonte, the civil rights and leisure large who started as a groundbreaking actor and singer and have become an activist, humanitarian and conscience of the world, has died. He was 96.

Belafonte died Tuesday of congestive coronary heart failure at his New York house, his spouse Pamela by his facet, mentioned Paula M. Witt, of public relations agency Sunshine Sachs Morgan & Lylis.

With his glowing, good-looking face and silky-husky voice, Belafonte was one of many first Black performers to realize a large following on movie and to promote one million data as a singer; many nonetheless know him for his signature hit “Banana Boat Song (Day-O),” and its name of “Day-O! Daaaaay-O.” But he solid a better legacy as soon as he scaled again his performing profession within the Nineteen Sixties and lived out his hero Paul Robeson’s decree that artists are “gatekeepers of truth.”

He stands because the mannequin and the epitome of the movie star activist. Few stored up with Belafonte’s time and dedication and none his stature as a gathering level amongst Hollywood, Washington and the civil rights motion.

Belafonte not solely participated in protest marches and profit live shows, however helped arrange and lift help for them. He labored carefully along with his good friend and generational peer the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., usually intervening on his behalf with each politicians and fellow entertainers and serving to him financially. He risked his life and livelihood and set excessive requirements for youthful Black celebrities, scolding Jay Z and Beyonce for failing to satisfy their “social responsibilities,” and mentoring Usher, Common, Danny Glover and lots of others. In Spike Lee’s 2018 movie “BlacKkKlansman,” he was fittingly solid as an elder statesman education younger activists concerning the nation’s previous.

Belafonte’s good friend, civil rights chief Andrew Young, would notice that Belafonte was the uncommon particular person to develop extra radical with age. He was ever engaged and unyielding, prepared to tackle Southern segregationists, Northern liberals, the billionaire Koch brothers and the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama, whom Belafonte would bear in mind asking to chop him “some slack.”

Belafonte responded, “What makes you think that’s not what I’ve been doing?”

Belafonte had been a serious artist because the Nineteen Fifties. He received a Tony Award in 1954 for his starring function in John Murray Anderson’s “Almanac” and 5 years later grew to become the primary Black performer to win an Emmy for the TV particular “Tonight with Harry Belafonte.”

In 1954, he co-starred with Dorothy Dandridge within the Otto Preminger-directed musical “Carmen Jones,” a preferred breakthrough for an all-Black solid. The 1957 film “Island in the Sun” was banned in a number of Southern cities, the place theater homeowners have been threatened by the Ku Klux Klan due to the movie’s interracial romance between Belafonte and Joan Fontaine.

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