Harry Belafonte is a celebrated singer, actor, and television producer, as well as a global activist, humanitarian, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and prominent civil and human rights advocate. Mr. Belafonte is a devoted supporter of the fight against AIDS and served on amfAR’s board of trustees since March 2005. He notably participated in amfAR’s “We All Have AIDS” advertising campaign to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and attended its launch on World AIDS Day 2006.
A Harlem birthplace, a childhood in Jamaica, and, years later, a ticket to an American Negro Theatre production pointed Mr. Belafonte towards a career with many firsts that broke down racial barriers. His album Calypso was the first to sell more than a million LPs. His first Broadway appearance won him a Tony. His first television production was the first by a black producer and won him an Emmy.
President Kennedy appointed him a cultural advisor for the Peace Corps. Later, his idea for a concert to raise money for the people of Africa led to the very successful “We Are the World” recording, which in turn led to Hands Across America, a benefit for the fight against poverty and hunger in the U.S.
Mr. Belafonte was a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and an ardent campaigner for the end of apartheid in South Africa and the release of his friend Nelson Mandela. He was named a Kennedy Center honoree for his “lifetime of contributions to the arts and American culture.” In 1994, President Clinton awarded him a National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States government.
Over the years, Mr. Belafonte has been honored for his contributions to society by a diverse collection of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, the Boy Scouts of America, City of Hope, Fight for Sight, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Peace Corps, the United States Department of State, and the Urban League.