Harry Belafonte, American Singer, Actor and Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 95

Harry Belafonte, American Singer, Actor and Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 95

...By Henry George for TDPel Media.

Harry Belafonte, the American singer, actor and civil rights activist, has died at the age of 95.


His longtime spokesman, Ken Sunshine, said Belafonte passed away at his Manhattan home on Tuesday due to congestive heart failure.

Early life and Calypso music

Belafonte was born in Harlem, New York and spent some of his childhood in Jamaica, where his parents were from.

He dropped out of high school in New York to work odd jobs before joining the US Navy at the age of 17.

After the war ended, he worked as a janitor’s assistant.

Belafonte began taking acting classes alongside Marlon Brando and Walter Matthau, inspired by the plays at New York’s American Negro Theatre.


He also worked as a singer at New York clubs before releasing his debut album in 1954.

In the 1950s, he topped the pop charts with hits like Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), Shake Señora, and Island in the Sun.

He introduced Calypso music to American audiences and won a lifetime achievement Grammy and the Academy’s President’s merit award.

Acting and civil rights activism

Belafonte also acted and won a Tony Award in 1954 for John Murray Anderson’s Almanac.

He is one of the first Black actors to achieve major success in Hollywood and appeared in several films, including Carmen Jones (1954) and Bright Road (1953).

Belafonte was involved with the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, befriending Martin Luther King Jr and helping to organise the march on Washington that ended with King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Belafonte bailed King and several other civil rights activists out of jail and donated money to take care of the King family after Dr King’s assassination in 1968.


He remained politically active into his later years and campaigned for Democratic candidates in New York.

Tributes to Belafonte

Tributes have poured in for Belafonte, with many praising his activism.

Journalist Christiane Amanpour said, “May Harry Belafonte, the lionhearted civil rights hero, rest in peace.

He inspired generations around the whole world in the struggle for non-violent resistance, justice and change.

We need his example now more than ever.”

Actress Mia Farrow said, “We have lost the great Harry Belafonte – beautiful singer, brilliant and brave civil rights activist, a deeply moral and caring man.

Miss you already Harry.”



Harry Belafonte was a trailblazing artist and activist who used his platform to promote civil rights and social justice.

He introduced Calypso music to American audiences and achieved major success in Hollywood, paving the way for Black actors in the industry.

Belafonte’s dedication to civil rights activism, including his friendship with Martin Luther King Jr and involvement in the march on Washington, made him a powerful figure in the movement.

His passing is a loss for the music and entertainment industries and a reminder of the importance of using our voices and platforms to fight for what is right.


Read More On The Topic On TDPel Media