By: Office of the Vice President
Harry Belafonte, who died Tuesday morning at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at the age of 96, was an icon that stormed the pop charts and broke racial barriers in the 1950s during the the civil rights movement as an activist and became close friends to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Belafonte was dubbed the “King of Calypso” after the groundbreaking success of his 1956 hit, “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O).”
Vice President Kamala Harris made a statement on the passing of Belafonte on Thursday during her briefings.
“Harry Belafonte was one of our nation’s most powerful voices for change. As an activist, Harry Belafonte helped lead the fight for civil rights and human rights here and across the world—and inspired a generation of young leaders to fight for change. He used his voice and resources to champion the cause of racial justice, speaking out for freedom alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and supporting organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On stage and on screen, the “King of Calypso” captivated audiences around the globe.
Like all true patriots, Harry Belafonte had the ability to see what could be and had the courage to work to realize that vision. He fought to help America live up to our highest ideals: dignity, equity, and justice for all.
For years, it was my honor to call Harry a dear friend and rely on his wisdom and counsel. America has lost a giant. Today, Doug and I are praying for his family and loved ones.”