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Black Activists - Harry Belafonte

Updated on February 21, 2012

"Art. There's nothing more powerful in the universe than it, because it is the recorder of the truth." – Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte was born March 1, 1927 inHarlem,New York, lived for several years in Jamaica and then moved back toHarlem. The multi-talented Belafonte is a singer, actor and activist and is best known as the King of Calypso and for his song The Banana Boat Song also known as Day-O.


Harry Belafonte grew up in his mothers’ native country ofJamaica. InJamaicais where Belafonte witnessed the oppression of blacks first hand which changed his vision of the world. Belafonte was always outspoken and therefore was a strong voice for the civil rights movement. Belafonte was also a close friend of Dr Martin Luther King and over the years has worked with several causes and organizations to help fight for the rights of others. Belafonte was known too help in numerous ways for example he helped to finance the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Council as well as helped with protests and rallies. Not only did Harry Belafonte work with the civil rights movement but also helped to fight apartheid inSouth Africaand also worked with UNICEF as well.


Harry Belafonte is best known for The Banana Boat Song (Day-O) a song that truly represented Belafonte, "It's a song about my father, my mother, my uncles, the men and women who toil in the banana fields, the cane fields ofJamaica." Belafonte’s album Calypso which featured The Banana Boat Song was the first album to sell over a million copies. Although Belafonte’s name is mostly synonymous with Calypso music he has also worked in other genres such as folk music, blues and show tunes. He is truly a versatile singer with a wonderful voice.


Harry Belafonte performed as an actor on stage, in movies and on television. Belafonte became interested in acting after watching a performance and immediately decided that he wanted to become an actor. Belafonte took a Dramatic Workshop in which his classmates included Marlon Brando, Walter Matthau and others. After starring in the film Carmen Jones opposite Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte’s career took off. Belafonte received an Academy Award nomination for his role in Carmen Jones. Harry Belafonte would star in several movies with his friend Sidney Poitier. Belafonte also won a Tony Award for his debut performance on Broadway in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac. Belafonte was also the first African American television producer for several musical shows. Belafonte is a very versatile actor and appeared in several different venues.

Harry Belafonte is a multi-talented man; a singer, actor and activist to name a few. Belafonte is a true renaissance man with the desire and drive to help those around the world. Although he has been black listed and criticized for his beliefs and statements he is truly a voice for those who are struggling and has a vision of how people should be treated.


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    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 6 years ago from Olney

      Super hub thank you JDove. Belafonte was a fine man.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you JDove! I agree.

    • JDove-Miller profile image

      JDove-Miller 6 years ago from YOUNGSVILLE

      Good info on someone I admire. He spoke up when many other actors would not.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Nan - Thank you and I totally agree he still has it!

    • Nan Mynatt profile image

      Nan Mynatt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Great hub and Harry Belafonte is still handsome at the 80? age. I marked you up on this one. He was a magnificient man and great actor as well as singer.