Harry Belafonte, Entertainer And Civil Rights Activist, Dies At 96

Harry Belafonte, an entertainer and activist, has died at 96. 

Born in 1927 in Harlem, New York to parents who were Jamaican immigrants, Belafonte would join the Navy at 17. He worked odd jobs following the war, but he would become inspired to delve into a career in acting after watching plays at New York’s American Negro Theatre. 

However, Belafonte would get his first big break in music. In 1954, he released his debut album and, two years later, would score a No. 1 placement on the Billboard charts with his sophomore album. But he would make history with this third album, Calypso, which became the first U.S. album to sell 1 million copies. 

The lead single, “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song),” became Belafonte’s signature song throughout his career. 

His acting career would also takeoff around that time as he starred alongside Dorothy Dandridge in the classic 1954 film, Carmen Jones. 

He would also star in films alongside his friend Sidney Poitier in movies such as Buck and the Preacher, and Uptown Saturday Night

Belafonte would use his voice to shed light on the Civil Rights, joining leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Paul Roberson in the fight for freedom. 

In 1963, Belafonte bailed king out of a Birmingham jail and helped to organize the “March on Washington,” where King delivered his “I have a dream” speech. He also provided funding for SNCC and other Civil Rights organization. 

In 2016, Belafonte was one of the organizers and made an appearance of the Many River to Cross Festival in Atlanta which featured John Legend, Common, Maxwell. 

Belafonte reportedly passed due to congestive heart failure. 



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