“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.
World Leaders — They're Just Like Us (Special Trudeau and Trump Edition)!
The most powerful people in the world need to go to the bathroom, too! (You won't BELIEVE the last on our list)
World leaders might seem larger than life, but even the most powerful people in society are actually just like us!
They Shop at the Supermarket!
German chancellor Angela Merkel digs through her bag at the supermarket checkout while flanked by security.
GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/GETTY
They Go to Restaurants!
French president Emmanuel Macron enjoys a tasty beverage at La Rotonde.
Must See: Trudeau Caught on Camera Joking About Trumpwww.youtube.com
They Make Fun of Stupid People!
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau laughs it up with other world leaders at the expense of the most stupid guy they all know. Even weak UK prime minister Boris Johnson joins in to avoid being on the bottom of the world leader totem pole!
They Don't Respect Stupid People So Much That They Openly Admit to Trash Talking Them!
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau gets covertly taped goofing on US president Donald Trump ("You just watched his team's jaws drop to the floor," he said in regards to Trump holding an impromptu press conference that derailed the NATO schedule). Then, after being asked about it by the media, Trudeau is pretty much just like, "Yeah, that guy's a f*cking moron." Okay, he's a little more eloquent than that: "I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable," Trudeau said.
President Donald Trump called Justin Trudeau ‘two-faced’ over comments that the Canadian prime minister appeared to… https://t.co/FwBwUbMfFQ— Reuters (@Reuters) 1575469764.0
They Whine and Attempt to Call Their More Powerful Rivals Names When Their Feelings Get Hurt!
US president Donald Trump tries his best to insult Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, calling him "two-faced" in response to the surfaced video of Trudeau roasting him.
They Give Up and Run Back to Their Safe Spaces!
US president Donald Trump ultimately can't handle the big leagues, so after a pathetic attempt at calling Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau names, Trump quits NATO and runs back home to his safe space in America.
They Ultimately Succumb to Their Stronger, More Handsome Rivals!
US President Donald Trump sulks as his wife Melania, who allegedly sleeps in a separate bedroom from him, gets extra friendly with his biggest rival, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. Trump loves to prove that his supporters who constantly shout about "cucks" are, as always, projecting.
At the end of the day, maybe we're not so different from world leaders after all!