The legendary performer, actor, and campaigner Harry Belafonte has died at the age of 96, according to the New York Times.

At his residence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Tuesday (April 25), Belafonte passed away. His longtime spokesperson Ken Sunshine informed the New York Times that congestive heart failure was the reason.

Harold George Bellanfanti Jr., a pioneer in the entertainment industry and an advocate for the rights of African Americans and Black people worldwide, was born in Harlem, New York City, in 1927. The Jamaican-American musician’s debut studio album, Calypso, was published in 1956. It would go on to become history as the first record by a single artist to sell more than a million copies.

Belafonte’s multi-decade, cross-genre career and performance of “The Banana Boat Song” and the classic “Day-O” made him well-known in the music world. He was nominated for 11 Grammy Awards throughout his career and won several, including Best Folk Recording and Best Folk Performance.

Additionally well-known for his work and advocacy for human rights, Harry Belafonte. Belafonte was a personal friend and organizer of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s throughout the Civil Rights Movement. Famously, he also contributed money from his own pocket to support protest activities.
In one incident in 1964, Sidney Poitier, a lifelong friend of Belafonte’s, and the actor traveled down to the Mississippi Delta to deliver a $70,000 donation to support the continuation of Freedom Summer. The two were involved in a high-speed chase with KKK members en route, but they managed to escape.

In 2014, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. elected Belafonte as an honorary member in recognition of his career of brave service.

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