“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.
Here's Why You Should Ditch Single-Use Plastic Straws
Help save the planet and switch to reusuable straws!
Raise your hand if you order an iced coffee almost every day, maybe even twice a day, single-use plastic straw in tow. Those iced coffees, cocktails, soft drinks, smoothies, even those oh-so-good for you green juices are filling the oceans up with enough single-use plastic to form a new continent. A pile of garbage four times the size of California now sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
By 2050 there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Single-use plastic straws are largely to blame, as they can't really be recycled. Even the disposable straws that claim to be recyclable are failing to live up to their promise. The truth is that plastic straws are too light weight to make it through mechanical recycling sorters. If they manage to make it to the recycling plant at all. Plastic straws are so light weight they're often blown out of recycling bins and ending up in the trash instead. The next stop is a landfill or the ocean.
500 million single-use plastic straws are used by Americans alone every single day! It's estimated that a truck full of plastic is dumped into the Pacific Ocean every minute. It isn't just the oceans that are in danger either. That to-go drink that took you 10 minutes to gulp down can potentially linger in the environment for over 2,000 years. Most plastic isn't biodegradable. It continues to break down until it's a microscopic size. Alarming amounts of marine life are confusing the microplastic for food. 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles are found with plastic in their stomachs. Once plastic is ingested the oceans wildlife has a 50% mortality rate.
Pollution caused by single-use plastic Green Peace
In the midst of all this bad news, the good news is that it's easy for you to make a difference. Next time you order your favorite drink, just say no to a plastic straw! While you might think that you alone can't save the planet, you can probably save a few sea turtles. By ditching plastic straws, you can help lower the amount of plastic building up in the oceans. The average American throws away 185 pounds of plastic every year. 50% of it was only used once.
Facing recent public pressure, major companies have also decided to ditch plastic straws. Last month Starbucks announced it would eliminate single-use plastic straws globally by 2020. What will your favorite iced drink be using instead? Strawless lids and alternative-material straws. McDonalds and Evian have even announced plans to make a dent in their plastic consumption by 2025.
If you're ready to replace your single-use plastic straws for a more eco-conscious alternative here's a great option. Keep one in your purse, a few at home, gift them to all your coworkers! Spread the word. Every effort counts.
Metal reusable strawsAoocan
According to numerous headlines this is likely to be the year that single-use plastic straws get kicked to the curb. Tom Brady has even jumped in on the eco conscious efforts. Aside from Starbucks and McDonalds, Seaworld, Royal Carribean, and Ikea are all removing plastic straws from their parks. Alaska Airlines is getting rid of both plastic straws and stirrers on their flights. To help spread the word you can join the #stopsucking campaign on Instagram by tagging a picture of yourself using your reusable straw.
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