Democracy Now! is devastated to report the death of Harry Belafonte, the longtime civil rights activist who was an immensely popular singer and actor. He was 96 years old, and reportedly died from congestive heart failure. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Belafonte grew up on the streets of Harlem and Jamaica. In the 1950s, he spearheaded the calypso craze and became the first artist in recording history with a million-selling album. He was also the first African-American musician to win an Emmy. Along with his rise to worldwide stardom, Belafonte became deeply involved in the civil rights movement. One of Dr. King’s closest confidants, he helped organize the March on Washington in 1963. In the 2011 interview featured above, Belafonte joined us for the hour at the Sundance Film Festival to talk about his battle against racism, his mentor Paul Robeson, the power of music to push for political change, his close relationship with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the U.S. role in Haiti. His life was the focus of a documentary called Sing Your Song. “Going into the South of the United States, listening to the voices of rural black America, listening to the voices of those who sang out against the Ku Klux Klan and out against segregation, and women, who were the most oppressed of all, rising to the occasion to protest against their conditions, became the arena where my first songs were to emerge,” Belafonte said. Watch Democracy Now! on Wednesday, April 26, as we look back at the remarkable and radical life of Harry Belafonte, and feature some of his interviews and songs.
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Human Rights and Equality
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