Tamara: A long time activist, Harry Belafonte has been at the forefront on important issues. He was an early civil rights activist (one who knew MLK and had a long friendship with him beginning in 1956). Mr. Belafonte was by that time already famous and there were problems for blacks who spoke truth. It's easy to look back now and think, "Of course everyone should have stood up."
But the reality is that a lot of famous people didn't. And those who did, like Eartha Kitt, would often find themselves gray-listed or black-listed. I'm sure Mr. Belafonte would shrug his actions off in his usual humble manner and say he did what needed to be done. But it's also true that a lot of famous people didn't because of the retaliation that could come from speaking truth.
Mr. Belafonte was born in New York city and raised in Jamaica. A famous singer and actor, he's appeared on Broadway (and won the Tony in 1953). In 1956, his record album Calypso became the first million selling (platinum) album. He has acted in many movies including three of my favorites: Carmen Jones, Island in the Sun and White Man's Burden.
So he had a lot to lose or risk by speaking out; that's a lesson we should all learn, take to heart and attempt to duplicate. Mr. Belafonte is an activist and he's always put that ahead of playing it safe. In 2002, he called Colin Powell to the carpet. In 2002! When most people were too busy trying to give the administration the benefit of the doubt on each and every issue.
Mr. Belafone's honors are many and include a lifetime Grammy in 2000, to the 1988 Leader for Peace award from the Peace Corp and the National Medal of Arts in 1994.
He has always spoken his truth and never let anyone intimidate him.
I've got some links to some of his appearences on Democracy Now!
"Remembering Ossie Davis 1917-2005: Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, Bill Clinton Pay Tribute to the Famed Actor & Civil Rights Activist"
"Today Marks the 40th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Filmmaker Estela Bravo Talks About Her New Film "Fidel: The Untold Story" Which Includes Alice Walker, Mohammed Ali, Angela Davis, Nelson Mandela, Harry Belafonte and Others"
"Singer Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover ,and Activist Angela Davis Speak to Hundreds of Thousands in NYC"
'"We Have Got To Bring Corporate America To Its Knees" - Harry Belafonte on Racism, Poverty, John Kerry, War and Resistance'
I admire his strength, his conviction and his committment. Mr. Belafonte has shown bravery and a consistent belief in a better world available to us all.