Actor, singer and activist Harry Belafonte from the documentary film “Sing Your Song,” poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Jan. 21, 2011.InternationalIndiaAfricaBelafonte’s legacy as a pioneer of Caribbean music and a leading voice in the fight for equality continues to inspire generations, and as all the public condolences demonstrate he will be deeply missed.A host of public figures have taken to social media to pay tribute to artist and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, who died Tuesday at his New York home from congestive heart failure. The famed figure was 96 years-old.Director Spike Lee, who worked with Belafonte on his final film “BlacKkKlansman,” expressed his condolences and emphasized the importance of celebrating the accomplishments of our elders while they are still alive.Other celebrities, such as TV personality Oprah Winfrey, and musicians Questlove and Ice Cube, hailed Belafonte as a trailblazer and praised his contributions to music, art, and civil rights activism. © Photo : icecubeArtist Ice Cube expresses its condolences on the death of BelafonteArtist Ice Cube expresses its condolences on the death of BelafonteSinger Tony Bennett shared photos of him with Belafonte from the 1940s and a more recent shot, adding that his friend fought for social justice and never gave up.Actors Mia Farrow and Jeffrey Wright also offered their respects, with Farrow stating Belafonte’s life served as an example of what people should aspire to be.© Photo : MiaFarrowMia Farrow expresses her admiration for Belafonte and notes that the world could learn a great deal from him.Mia Farrow expresses her admiration for Belafonte and notes that the world could learn a great deal from him.Streaming platform Spotify and cable network Turner Classic Movies also paid tribute to the icon, as did director Ava DuVernay, who shared a quote from Belafonte himself.
"There were two choices that one could make… One was to do the art of the Eurocentric, which many chose to do, and try to do that art in as perfected a way as you possibly can. There’s one thing that’s gonna always be true about that fact or that choice. And that is that you’ll never touch the soul of who you are, because that’s not what your inner soul is experiencing. Every attempt to do something that spoke to the greater truth and the greater glory of what our inner souls were about was what I tried to do," DuVernay wrote, quoting Belafonte.
The Life Path of Harry Belafonte
Born on March 1, 1928, in Harlem, New York, Belafonte grew up in poverty, but his love of music and his remarkable voice propelled him to stardom. He first rose to fame in the 1950s with hits like “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” and “Jamaica Farewell,” which became anthems of the Caribbean sound in the United States.But Belafonte’s music was more than just entertainment. He used his platform to speak out against injustice and inequality, becoming a leading voice in the Civil Rights Movement. He worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists to challenge segregation and discrimination, using his fame to draw attention to the cause.Sputnik ExplainsCivil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s Oft-Overlooked Anti-Imperialism16 January, 17:46 GMTAssistance given to the cause by Belafonte ranged from funding bail posts, campaigns against segregation and helping to launch voter registration drives. However, his assistance was not solely bound to the US; in fact, Belafonte also campaigned for Nelson Mandela’s release in South Africa. The artist also threw his backing into famine relief efforts, taking part in the “We Are the World” recording and concerts in the mid 1980s.Belafonte was one of the first artists to embrace the power of television, using it to spread his message of social justice. He hosted “The Tonight Show” and “The Muppet Show,” and appeared on countless other programs throughout his lifetime, using his platform to address social problems.In addition to his activism, Belafonte was also a celebrated actor, starring in films like “Carmen Jones” and “Island in the Sun.” He continued to perform and record music throughout his life, receiving numerous awards and accolades. Moreover he become one of 23 EGOT winners in the world, receiving:Primetime Emmy in 1960Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000Oscar (Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award) in 2014Tony in 1954.Belafonte is survived by his wife, four kids, two stepchildren and eight grandchildren.