Belafonte died on Tuesday (April 25) at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The cause was congestive heart failure, his longtime spokesman, Ken Sunshine, told NYT.
Born in Harlem, NYC, in 1927, Harold George Bellanfanti Jr broke barriers in the entertainment industry while promoting civil rights for African Americans and Black people across the globe. In 1956, the Jamaican-American artist released his debut studio album, Calypso, which would go on to make history as the first LP by a single artist to sell more than a million copies.
In music, Belafonte was known for his rendition of "The Banana Boat Song" and the classic "Day-O" and his multi-decade, genre-expansive career. He won multiple Grammy Awards, including Best Folk Recording and Best Folk Performance, and was nominated 11 times throughout his lifetime.
Harry Belafonte was also well-known for his service and activism for human rights. During the Civil Rights Movements, Belafonte a close confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and helped organized demonstration. He also famously donated his personal funds to keep protest efforts going.
In one instance in 1964, Belafonte and his longtime friend, the late Sidney Poitier drove down to the Mississippi Delta to donate $70,000 in order to keep Freedom Summer going. On the way there, the two got into a high-speed chase with members of the KKK but still made it.
For his lifetime of courageous service, Belafonte was inducted as an honorary member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc in 2014.