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Harry Belafonte

"Legendary singer, actor, producer and activist - United Nations Goodwill Ambassador born in Harlem, New York City and raised in Jamiaca."
Harry Belafonte is known worldwide for his accomplishments as a recording artist and concert singer, as an actor and a producer, and for his commitment to human rights. He was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador on 4 March l987.

Belafonte has a long and distinguished campaigning record. He became the entertainment industry's first cultural adviser to the Peace Corps in the early 1960s. He was a leading architect of the civil rights movement. And in l985, he helped bring together 45 top performers to record the song 'We Are the World', which raised millions of dollars for emergency assistance in Africa.

A mission for children

Harry Belafonte's first UNICEF mission immediately followed his appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador. He travelled to Dakar, Senegal, where he served as chairman of the International Symposium of Artists and Intellectuals for African Children. He also helped raise funds, along with more than 20 other artists, in the largest concert ever held in sub-Saharan Africa.

Belafonte and his wife, Julie, went on a mission to Rwanda in 1994, during which they met President Bizimungo and visited UNICEF-supported centres for unaccompanied children. On returning to the United States, Belafonte launched a media campaign to raise awareness of the needs of Rwandan children.

In June 2001 the Belafontes' commitment to the campaign against HIV/AIDS took them to South Africa, where they saw first-hand the impact of the disease and efforts to fight it. Once back in New York, Belafonte publicized the mission and promoted UNICEF efforts widely with the media.

In between such trips, Belafonte has been involved in numerous special concerts and broadcasts to raise funds for UNICEF and promote its programmes. He has taken every opportunity to support the work of UNICEF national committees and advocate for children's rights. His efforts with the United States Congress to influence policies that benefit children have been important to UNICEF and to the cause of children everywhere.

Making records - and breaking them

Harry Belafonte was born in Harlem, New York. He later moved to his mother's birthplace, Jamaica, where he discovered the folk music that became his trademark. His third album, Calypso, became the first recording in history to sell more than a million copies. Since then Belafonte's concert tours have broken attendance records worldwide.

American audiences first saw Belafonte on Broadway in John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1953), for which he won a Tony Award. A Hollywood career spanning five decades followed. Belafonte was the first African-American man to win an Emmy, for his television music special Tonight with Harry Belafonte (1959), the first of several TV specials he produced.

The United States awarded Belafonte the National Medal of the Arts, one of its highest honours, in 1994. In 2000 he received the Ronald McDonald House Charities' 2000 Award of Excellence in recognition of his humanitarian work. Using the US$100,000 honorarium from this award, Belafonte launched the Harry and Julie Belafonte Fund for HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, which is administered by the US Fund for UNICEF.

© UNICEF

blog

Jan
10
2006
Belafonte slams 'terrorist' Bush The legendary singer and activist speaks out during a South American visit. Harry Belafonte has labelled George W. Bush 'the greatest terrorist in the world'. The revered singer, now 78, has focused his career on political activism and human rights campaigning since the  read the full post here >>

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