Singer, actor and civil rights campaigner Harry Belafonte died on Tuesday at the age of 96, the US media reported.
He died of congestive heart failure while in his New York home with his wife Pamela by his side, according to his public relations firm.
Belafonte was born in Harlem to a Jamaican mother and a father from the French territory of Martinique. He became a superstar entertainer who introduced a Caribbean flair to mainstream US music.
He gained fame for hits such as ‘Banana Boat Song (Day-O)’, selling millions of records throughout his career. He was one of the first Black artists to succeed against the backdrop of segregation.
But he also dedicated much of his time, and money, to pursuing civil rights. He was a close friend to Martin Luther King Jr and his family.
Reactions pour in
As news of Belafonte’s death spread, tributes came from all sections of society, from fellow artists, politicians and even prominent CEOs.
Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice wrote on Twitter that the singer was very compassionate towards her family and even paid for babysitting her and her siblings.
When I was a child, #HarryBelafonte showed up for my family in very compassionate ways.
In fact, he paid for the babysitter for me and my siblings.
Here he is mourning with my mother at the funeral service for my father at Morehouse College.
I won’t forget…Rest well, sir. pic.twitter.com/31OC1Ajc0V
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 25, 2023
US Senator Bernie Sanders said that Belafonte was not only a great entertainer, but also “a courageous leader in the fight against racism and worker oppression.”
“Jane and I were privileged to consider him a friend and will miss him very much,” Sanders said.
Harry Belafonte was not only a great entertainer, but he was a courageous leader in the fight against racism and worker oppression. Jane and I were privileged to consider him a friend and will miss him very much. pic.twitter.com/TO2xrz0GJF
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 25, 2023
American actress Mia Farrow also remembered Belafonte as a beautiful singer and “a brilliant and brave civil rights activist, a deeply moral and caring man.”
Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the world has lost a true giant today. “Harry Belafonte was a barrier breaker who helped reshape our world through his civil rights advocacy, his music, and his acting,” he wrote on Twitter.