Community Change Statement on the Passing of Harry Belafonte

by Domenica Ghanem | May 2, 2023 3:44 pm

Community Change Statement on the Passing of Harry Belafonte

As we mourn the passing of singer, actor, and activist, Harry Belafonte, we remember his legacy and contributions to the world–both artistically and to the civil rights movement. Known for his smash hit “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” and roles in Carmen Jones, Buck and the Preacher, and Uptown Saturday Night – Belafonte passed away at the age of 96. 

Afua Atta-Mensah, Chief of Program at Community Change, said: 

“The lasting impact of his life won’t just be in the beautiful songs he sang or in the riveting movies he made – it will be in his lifelong fight against bigotry, poverty, and injustice. Belafonte was a true rebel, who wasn’t afraid to confront powerful people or institutions. 

A close friend of Dr, Martin Luther King. Jr., Belafonte, was a major contributor, strategist, and fundraiser for the civil rights movement. He helped fund the 1961 Freedom Rides and played an instrumental role in organizing the 1963 March on Washington. In 1964, he funded the Freedom Summer Project, an effort by civil rights organizations to register Mississippi voters and raised funds to bail out jailed civil rights protestors, including Dr. King. 

A true humanitarian, Belafonte organized the 1985, Grammy Award winning song “We Are the World” to raise funds for Africa, was an UNICEF Ambassador, active in the anti-apartheid movement, and supported campaigns in Africa against HIV/AIDS. 

Though we lost a true giant of the liberation movement, the fight that Belafonte dedicated his life to continues. He once said, ‘Movements don’t die, because struggle doesn’t die.’ Let us honor his memory by continuing to stand against oppression, inequality, and anti-democratic leaders and efforts wherever they exist. Rest well, king.”  

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