THE NEW YORK Harry Belafonte, a pioneering actor and singer who later became an activist, humanitarian, and voice for human rights around the world, has passed away. He was 96.
According to publicist Ken Sunshine, Belafonte passed away on Tuesday at his New York residence from congestive heart failure with his wife Pamela by his side.
Many people still recognize Belafonte for his signature hit, "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)," with its call of "Day-O! Daaaay-O.
" He was one of the first Black performers to gain a large following on film and to sell a million records as a singer.
He created a bigger legacy, though, after he curtailed his performing activities in the 1960s and applied his hero Paul Robeson's dictum that artists are "gatekeepers of truth."
Belafonte is the poster child and best example of a celebrity activist. Few were able to match his dedication, time commitment, and stature as a hub for the civil rights movement, Hollywood, and Washington.
Belafonte helped plan and raise money for protest marches and charity concerts in addition to taking part in them. He collaborated closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,
a friend and generational peer, frequently advocating for him before politicians and other entertainers and providing financial support.