Beloved Singer, human rights activist, and actor Harry Belafonte passed Tuesday due to congestive heart failure.
The Harlem native stood tall in his Caribbean roots, which showed in his artistry. His mother took him to her native island Jamaica, where he soaked in the culture that would later support his start in Entertainment.
Belafonte withdrew out of high school to join the Navy. During his service, he fought in World War II. After he returned home, he worked as a janitor’s assistant. One day on the job colleague gave him tickets for the American Negro Theatre. From there
He started training alongside Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, then began singing in clubs. Before you know it, he had a record contract.
Along with a fantastic career that followed after he also became friends with civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. By 1963, he assisted with the Freedom March on Washington, where King dilivered the “I Have A Dream” speech.
His relationship with the King family became estranged after Belafonte filed a lawsuit against King’s estate in 2013. The suit was over the destiny of three documents the civil rights leader gave him. Belafonte tried to auction off to fund nonprofit work.
Belafonte received numerous honors throughout his career for his humanitarian work and the arts. He also helped organize Nelson Mandela’s first trip to the U.S. after his release from prison.
Harry Belafonte was a husband to his wife, Pamela Frank, and the father of four children, two stepchildren, and the grandfather of eight grandchildren.