We Need Many More Activist-Entertainers like Harry Belafonte

Legendary singer HARRY BELAFONTE passed away two days ago. He was among the pioneers among entertainers who are also equally well-known for their civil rights work and for their social activism, says REENA SINGH in this tribute

Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s when I was in school and college, I didn’t know much about Harry Belafonte except that he was a singer of some foot-tapping hits like Jamaica Farewell, Matilda, and the Banana Boat song (Day-O) which were regularly played on AIR’s radio programmes like Forces Request, and A Date with You, besides often being played in the Play it Cool section on Yuva Vani.

It was, therefore, heartening to read about the activism that marked legendary singer Harry Belafonte’s life who passed away two days ago at age 96. He was the first Black singer back in the ‘50s to become the highest paid entertainer in the US entertainment industry and at the height of his popularity, abandoned his quest for fame and money and opted instead to support Reverend Martin Luther King in his fight for equal rights for the Black community.  

There was far more to this singer than just his mellifluous voice and handsome face. The Calypso King as he was popularly called was a singer, songwriter, movie star and activist, all rolled into one. Later, he became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, a role he took on with great gusto all through his life.