Skip to main content
Harry Belafonte
Press Statement April 25, 2023

The NAACP Mourns the Passing of Singer, Actor, and International Activist Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte

Contact: Jonah Bryson |

WASHINGTONNAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson released the following statement on the passing of Harry Belafonte.

Harry Belafonte exemplified fearless activism. Aside from being the outstanding entertainer he was, his receiving of the NAACP Spingarn Award, our highest honor, displayed another pertinent piece of his life's passion — humanitarianism.

Actors Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte

A civil rights trailblazer, Harry Belafonte stood alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as his trusted confidant, during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1963, Belafonte played an active role as one of the organizers for the March on Washington. Mr. Belafonte continued on to be quite vocal on matters of civil injustice around the world, creating an international legacy for his humanitarian ideals.

In addition to being the 97th recipient of the NAACP Spingarn Award, Mr. Belafonte served, supported, and was recognized by the NAACP in numerous capacities. In 1958, he led a Youth March for Integrated Schools which was supported by over 1500 NAACP Youth and College participants. On May 14, 1964 he performed at 'The NAACP Freedom Spectacular', a nationwide closed-circuit TV special broadcast. He also received the Chairman's Award at the 1999 Image Awards. There's no question that for many decades, Harry Belafonte's presence was always felt throughout the NAACP. 

Through philanthropic contributions and utilizing his platform, Harry Belafonte supported countless historical causes including the anti-Apartheid Movement, climate change, equal rights for women, juvenile justice, and the decolonization of Africa.

Actors Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte

The influence of his Jamaican roots inspired his cultural identity. Sharing his love for the arts, Mr. Belafonte played an instrumental role in bringing the music of Africa to other parts of the world. His contributions to the arts, indisputable. He possessed an infinite talent which truly surpasses all understanding of time and life and will be greatly missed.

We thank him for his dedicated activism and forging a path to a better world. He is remembered by his loving wife, children, grandchildren, and all of the many lives around the world who were touched by his work. Our thoughts and prayers are with all in mourning during this time. May he rest in peace."