Harry Belafonte, American singer and activist of the civil rights movement in the 1950s, died on Tuesday April 25 in New York.
The 96-year-old died of congestive heart failure , his agent said in a statement.
Born in Harlem on March 1, 1927 to a Jamaican mother and a Martinican father, Harry Belafonte blended West African, Caribbean and New York influences to create music to great success. We owe him hits such as Banana Boat, Matilda , Day-O , Island in the Sun , Jamaica Farewell , Try to Remember and Coconut Woman . He also signed six gold records, enjoyed worldwide success and won several Grammy Awards.
But the singer is not content to be a symbol. Quickly, he financed the campaign for civil rights and became close to Martin Luther King Jr. "When people think of activism, they always think that it involves sacrifices, but I have always considered it a privilege and an opportunity “, he said in 2004 during a speech at Emory University.
In 1963, he raised $50,000, the equivalent of almost $500,000 today, to get out of Martin Luther King prison. "I could have made two or three billion and ended up with some cruel addiction, but I chose to be a civil rights fighter instead," he explained in a 2007 interview.
He also spends time in Africa, and campaigns against apartheid in South Africa. In 1988, he dedicated his last album, "Paradise in Gazankulu", to this cause.
He is the main promoter of "We Are the World" sung in 1985 by 45 American artists raising funds to fight the famine in Ethiopia.
From the start of his career, he chose projects that highlighted racism and inequality.
Married three times, Harry Belafonte had three daughters and a son from his first two wives.