In Memoriam: Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte (March 1, 1927 – April 25, 2023) was a legendary Jamaican-American singer, actor and civil rights activist. He was widely regarded as the "King of Calypso" due to his popularization of Caribbean music in the 1950s. Belafonte's career spans over six decades, during which he had recorded numerous hit songs including "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" and "Jamaica Farewell." 

His Musical Work

One of our favorite tracks from one of our favorite Harry Belafonte albums. Rocks and Gravel” is a song by Harry Belafonte that was released in 1960 as part of his album “Swing Dat Hammer." The song was written by Alan Lomax and Leon Bibb. 

His Civil Rights Work

"My activism always existed. My art gave me the platform to do something about the activism." - Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte was a prominent face in the American civil rights movement and was just as famous for being on the front lines of civil rights marches as an early ally of Martin Luther King Jr. He organized fundraisers and benefit concerts to provide bail and to keep the campaign running. He managed and expanded the economic engine of the civil rights movement, including the freedom rides organized by the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE). By the 1980s, he helped organize the "We Are the World" recording that became the anthem for famine relief in Africa. He had also been recognized with numerous awards and honors for his contributions to music and social activism, including a Kennedy Center Honors award and the National Medal of Arts.

Learn more about Harry Belafonte: his work, his music and his story by checking out these items from Arapahoe Libraries or streaming on Hoopla, opens a new window.

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