“A tree is best measured when it is down,” the poet Carl Sandburg once observed, “and so it is with people.” The recent death of Harry Belafonte at the age of 96 has prompted many assessments of what this pioneering singer-actor-activist accomplished in a long and fruitful life.
Belafonte’s career as a ground-breaking entertainer brought him substantial wealth and fame; according to Playbill magazine, “By 1959, he was the highest paid Black entertainer in the industry, appearing in raucously successful engagements in Las Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles.” He scored on Broadway, winning a 1954 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical – John Murray Anderson's Almanac. Belafonte was the first Black person to win the prestigious award. A 1960 television special, “Tonight with Belafonte,” brought him an Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series, making him the first Black person to win that award. He found equal success in the recording studio, bringing Calypso music to the masses via such hits as “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.”
Harry Belafonte - Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) (Live)www.youtube.com
Belafonte’s blockbuster stardom is all the more remarkable for happening in a world plagued by virulent systemic racism. Though he never stopped performing, by the early 1960s he’d shifted his energies to the nascent Civil Right movement. He was a friend and adviser to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and, as the New York Times stated, Belafonte “put up much of the seed money to help start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was one of the principal fund-raisers for that organization and Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that “he helped launch one of Mississippi’s first voter registration drives and provided funding for the Freedom Riders. His activism extended beyond the U.S. as he fought against apartheid alongside Nelson Mandela and Miriam Makeba, campaigned for Mandela’s release from prison, and advocated for famine relief in Africa.” And in 1987, he received an appointment to UNICEF as a goodwill ambassador.
Over a career spanning more than seventy years, Belafonte brought joy to millions of people. He also did something that is, perhaps, even greater: he fostered the hope that a better world for all could be created. And, by his example, demonstrated how we might go about bringing that world into existence.
How This Organization Is Transforming Concern Into Action
Have you ever stopped to think about where your water comes from? Most of us don't have to walk further than a few feet to a sink with filtered water or a fridge with chilled water, or maybe we even have a whole stash of ionized bottled water. According to UNICEF, more than two billion people worldwide don't have access to clean water and it's usually left to the women and girls to take on the work of collecting it. Women and girls around the world spend 200 million hours collecting water every day. Access to clean water is only one of the problems those in need are dealing with on a daily basis. That's where Concern Worldwide comes in.
Concern Worldwide is a global aid organization comprised of humanitarians, community members, donors and volunteers. Concern is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year and has a lot to celebrate. They have been serving the global community for decades and continue to make a difference each year. It all started in 1968 with one modest goal - to help people living in extreme poverty and to provide them with the resources to enable lasting change and support. From their mission statement: "Our role is to ensure that people living in extreme poverty are able to meet their basic needs, achieve their rights and manage their own development."
Women in extreme poverty experience inequalities and struggles beyond insufficient resources and the need for disaster relief. Without improvement for women and all people, change cannot be possible for the community as a whole. Some of the main issues affecting women in impoverished countries are: exclusion from education, minimal access to adequate healthcare, unequal access to resources, child marriage, and taking on the burden of collecting clean water.
Concern is helping shine light on these issues and bring about lasting change. In 2017, Concern reached more than 10 million people in 26 countries. The organization provides essential support to health centers, helps families get access to clean water, health, and sanitation, and reaches out to those in need of disaster relief, as well as those in need of nutrition assistance and school programs. For Concern, making a difference begins with helping empower communities to create sustainable change for themselves.
Concern makes it easy for anyone - including you - to join in the effort by contributing as much or as little as you're able, and making sure that more than 90 cents of every dollar goes directly towards helping those in need.
The unavoidable truth is: without people donating, Concern Worldwide will not have the resources or funding to make the difference they do. Thanks to simple donations from people like you, Concern is able to continue their 50-year stretch of making a difference and saving lives. Concern has built up a community for change and believes that helping those in need is our duty as global citizens. How are you going to help?
Concern Worldwide needs your help: Follow this link and make a difference today.