IRAWMA SPECIAL FREEDOM FIGHTER AWARDEE
Published in 38th IRAWMA Magazine
Harry Belafonte is a singer songwriter, activist, humanitarian and actor. As one of the most successful Jamaican-American pop stars in history, he was dubbed the King of Calypso in the 1950s. His breakthrough album “Calypso” (1956) is the first million selling LP by a single artist. Belafonte is known for his recording of “The Banana Boat Song” with its signature lyric “Day-O”. He has recorded and performed in many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes and American standards. He also starred in several films including Otto Preminger’s hit musical “Carmen Jones” (1954). “Island in the Sun” (1957), and Robert Wise’s “Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959)
Belafonte was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s and was a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for political and humanitarian causes such as, the Anti-Apartheid Movement and USA for Africa. Since 1987, he has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Belafonte acts as the American Civil Liberties Union celebrity ambassador for juvenile justice issues.
Belafonte has won Grammy Awards including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an Emmy Award and a Tony Award. In 1989, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitaran Award at the Academy’s 6th Annual Governors Awards
Belafonte gave the keynote address at the ACLU of Northern California’s annual Bill of Rights Day Celebratio in December 2007 and was awarded the Chief Justice Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award. The 2011 Sundance Song, a biographical film focusing on Belfonte’s contribution to and his leadership in the civil rights movement in America and heendeavors to promote social justice globally. In 2011, Belafonte’s memoir “ My Song” was published by Knopf Books.