Photo via Wikimedia
New Yorkers will come together this week to remember one of their own. Harlem native Harry Belafonte, who died Tuesday at the age of 96, was not only a legendary performer and EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) winner but a political activist who befriended and supported Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Lincoln Center will host a public celebration of Belafonte’s life and his influence.
The Lincoln Center’s event takes place around the Revson Fountain on Broadway and 63rd Street. All are welcome to attend and sing with the IMPACT Children’s Chorus, Gathering for Justice, the social justice foundation Belafonte founded, and members of his family.
Born in Harlem in 1927 to Caribbean parents, Belafonte began his career in New York as a club singer and later made his debut at the iconic Village Vanguard. His hit album “Calypso” was released in 1956 and included the songs “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.” The New York Times said Belafonte “almost single-handedly ignited a craze for Caribbean music” with the release of the album.
He starred in movies and appeared in, and hosted, variety TV shows. In addition to his musical and film career, Belafonte was a political activist and a close friend and confidant of MLK. He raised money to bail King and other civil rights protesters out of jail and helped organize the Freedom March on Washington.
On April 25, 2023, Belafonte passed away from congestive heart failure at his home on the Upper West Side.