Harry Belafonte put it all on the line for Black people: His career, his heart, his soul

April 26, 2023

NBC News

At the height of his illustrious entertainment career, which spanned more than 70 years, Harry Belafonte risked it all for the good of Black people. On the stage or in the background, Belafonte supported the Civil Rights Movement in multiple ways, understanding that his involvement would impact his professional endeavors.

He didn’t care. 

One of the many elements of Belafonte’s legacy, following his death at 96, is that he always seemed to put his people first.

“He was truly one of the first artists, actors who seamlessly merged social justice into his work,” said Imani Cheers, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “It wasn’t an afterthought. It was a part of him with his work in film and music.”

Cheers said Belafonte’s activism is doubly impressive when compared to today’s, when “activism is seen as something that can be a ‘like’ of a post on social media,” she said. “It’s like, you engage and go to one protest or rally and you say, ‘I have done my part’ and then they don’t need to engage in the movement in more meaningful ways.”

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