Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
Celebrating Black History Month: Harry Belafonte

Today we recognize the contributions of Harry Belafonte. After completing his studies in acting at the New School for Social Research in New York City, Belafonte joined the American Negro Theater in Harlem. From there, Belafonte launched his professional singing and acting career, which has spanned decades and includes his best-selling album, Calypso.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Belafonte participated in the Civil Rights Movement and used his popular status to spearhead fundraising efforts for civil rights organizations. He helped finance the Freedom Rides in 1961 and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1964 "Freedom Summer."

Belafonte maintained a close relationship with the King family. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and held in jail in Birmingham, Belafonte organized fundraising efforts that allowed the Birmingham Movement to continue in King's absence.

Belafonte has continued his activism throughout his life. In 1985 he helped organize a fundraising effort that culminated in the release of "We Are the World" and was a vocal participant in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

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