On April 25, 2023, we said goodnight to a giant. Harry Belafonte was a singer, actor, and civil rights activist born in Harlem, New York in 1927. He began his career in the 1940s as a jazz singer and soon became known for his unique style and passionate performances. Throughout his career, Belafonte was a strong advocate for civil rights and worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to promote equality and justice for all.
Belafonte not only connected Hollywood to the Civil Rights Movement by bringing Tony Bennett, Marlon Brando, and others to the movement, but he was also a major financial backer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which was led by the late Congressman John Lewis. His $40,000 helped launch their protest work in the South, and he also bailed out people who were jailed for participating in these protests.
Belafonte was a prolific actor, appearing in dozens of films and television shows over the course of his career. His impact on popular culture and the fight for civil rights continues to be felt to this day.
“The reason that I hang around is to make sure, in my old age, if I live to see it, that I’ll be able to say that in my lifetime I did all that I could with what was at my disposal,” Belafonte said in a 1967 CBC interview. “Because I would hate for my children to look at me and to say, ‘Where were you during the moment of the great decision?’”
Here are a few images below of Mr. Belafonte and a rare video of Chuck Newman’s Conversations Co-Host, Alan ‘Big Al’ Muskovitz, performing with Harry Belafonte at the Detroit Opera House in 2000.