Home Entertainment Harry Belafonte, 96, Dies; Barrier-Breaking Singer, Actor and Activist

Harry Belafonte, 96, Dies; Barrier-Breaking Singer, Actor and Activist

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He provided the funds to release Dr. King and other civil rights activists from prison. He participated in his 1963 march on Washington. His spacious apartment on his Avenue in Manhattan’s West End became Dr. King’s second home. And he secretly maintained an insurance policy for Dr. King’s life, with the King family as beneficiaries, and his own insurance policy to ensure his family was taken care of after Dr. King’s assassination in 1968. donated money.

(Nevertheless, in 2013 he claimed that Dr. King’s three surviving children were in dispute over a document stating that Mr. Belafonte was his property and that the children belonged to the King’s estate.) (The lawsuit was settled the following year with Mr. Belafonte retaining possession.)

In an interview with The Washington Post months after King’s death, Belafonte expressed ambivalent feelings about his high profile in the civil rights movement. “I want to stop answering questions as if I’m the spokesman for the nation,” he said, adding, “I hate marching and I’m going to 3 a.m. to bail some cats out of jail.” I hate being called out sometimes,” he added.

In the same interview, he sadly noted that most of his fans were white, even though he sang music that had “roots in black culture in America, Africa and the West Indies.” . As frustrating as it may have been, he was more upset by the racism he faced at the height of his fame.

His role in the 1957 film Island of the Sun, which involved the suggestion of a romance between his character and a white woman played by Joan Fontaine, caused outrage in the South. A bill was even introduced in the South Carolina legislature to fine theaters showing the film. In 1962, in Atlanta for a Southern Christian Leadership Conference benefit concert, Mr. Belafonte was denied his service twice at the same restaurant. Television appearances by white female singers, such as Petula Clark in 1968 and Julie Andrews in 1969, angered many viewers. threatened to pay him for the sponsorship.

Early in his career, he was sometimes criticized by blacks, including suggestions that he attributed his success to his light skin (his paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother were white). when he divorced his wife in 1957 and married Julie RobinsonThe Amsterdam News, who was the only white member of Katherine Dunham’s dance troupe, wrote:

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