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Celebrities, politicians reflect on passing of Harry Belafonte


Helped to advance Civil Rights Movement

Celebrities, politicians and influencers at home and abroad have shared their thoughts on the death of Harry Belafonte. The civil rights and entertainment giant died this week at his home in New York at age 96.

A wreath was placed this week on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the billboard outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem paid tribute to the icon within hours of the news of his death. Belafonte was a benefactor of Harlem’s National Black Theater where served as producer of a recent production.

"I think that people don’t know how important he was to the movement, not the money, not the stardom, but the fire," said former Congressman Charles Rangel.

“May God Have My Dear Friend HARRY BELAFONTE At A Peaceful Rest. We Are Losing Our Giants Left And Right. We Have To Celebrate Our Elders While They Are With Us,” said film director Spike Lee.

The Rev. Al Sharpton commented: “Harry Belafonte was a true mentor and friend. I am heartbroken to hear of his death but inspired by the long, fruitful life he led. He realized his platform gave him the ability to affect change. He used it to advance the Civil Rights Movement and get others in his position off the sidelines. Rest in peace and power, Mr. B."

Legendary singer Tony Bennett had this to say: “Met Harry in 1948 and knew then he would be a huge star. More than that, he fought for social justice and equality and never, ever gave up. Our dearest of friends, he will be deeply missed by myself and so many for all he contributed to the world.”

Music producer Quincy Jones: “RIP to my dear brother-in-arms Harry Belafonte. From our time coming up, struggling to make it in NY in the 50s with our brother Sidney Poitier, to our work on ‘We Are The World’ and everything in between, you were the standard bearer for what it meant to be an artist/activist.”

Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said: “When I was a child, #HarryBelafonte showed up for my family in very compassionate ways. In fact, he paid for the babysitter for me and my siblings. Here he is mourning with my mother at the funeral service for my father at Morehouse College. I won’t forget...Rest well, sir."

Former President Barack Obama released a statement: "Harry Belafonte was a barrier-breaking legend who used his platform to lift others up. He lived a good life - transforming the arts while also standing up for civil rights. And he did it all with his signature smile and style. Michelle and I send our love to his wife, kids, and fans."

From New York City Mayor Eric Adams: "This great son of Harlem leaves behind a legacy in the arts and in civil rights that has changed the world for the better. He will be truly missed."

Music producer Barry Gordy: “My friend, Harry Belafonte, was truly a man of cause, conviction and principle. Besides being a great entertainer, he was a major political activist during the Civil Rights Movement. I still remember the day in 1968 when Harry and I marched side-by-side on the Poor People’s March to Freedom. He will be missed.”

Media giant Oprah Winfrey commented: "Another "GREAT TREE" has fallen: Harry Belafonte, a Trailblazer and Hero to us all. Thank you for your music, your artistry, your activism, your fight for civil rights and justice-especially risking your life back in the day to get money to the movement. Your being here on Earth has blessed us all."