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Martin Luther King Jr., Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier

Source: Universal History Archive / Getty

Rest easy to legendary singer, activist and actor Harry Belafonte. The news of his death was announced on Tuesday. Belafonte lived a full life, passing at 96 years old at his home in Manhattan, New York City. The entertainment and civil rights hero has joined his industry peers in the afterlife. We celebrate Harry Belafonte’s legacy of art, activism and achievement with a photo gallery featuring him and his famous — and historic — friends.

Belafonte was arguably the most successful Caribbean-American pop star of his time. The award-winning musician, actor and human rights activist popularized Jamaican mento folk songs, which were marketed as Trinbagonian Calypso musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. He went on to join the Civil Rights Movement around the same time, becoming one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest confidantes. Throughout the years, he helped to organize demonstrations, raised money and contributed his personal funds to keep the movement afloat. One of Belafonte’s greatest contributions to the movement was organizing a contingency of celebrities to attend the 1963 March on Washington.

The star was born in Harlem to Caribbean parents. His mother emphasized education, but Belafonte found school to be difficult due to dyslexia. Despite dropping out of high school and deciding to enlist in the Navy, the beloved entertainer found great success and a long life of happiness and meaningful connections.

Belafonte was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards and became the first Black person to ever win the award. He was also nominated for 11 Grammy Awards and won two. Belafonte won a Tony Award, and was bestowed with the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the President’s Merit Award.

His relationships with some of the industry’s leading figures like Sidney Poitier — who cast Harry in Buck and the Preacher for his 1972 directorial debut — afforded him many opportunities to become a prominent figure in Black history.

In the below gallery of images, you will see photos of Harry Belafonte with some of his esteemed friends through art and activism like Poitier, King, Cicely Tyson and James Baldwin, to name but a few. Mourning social media users have been seeking to comfort themselves from the loss by choosing to believe that Harry Belafonte is currently greeting his late friends in the afterlife with a bright smile and plenty of jokes to make them laugh.

Check out a gallery of Harry Belafonte and his famous friends below.

Art, Activism And Achievement: Harry Belafonte And His Famous Friends  was originally published on

1. Mr. Belafonte With His Good Friend Sidney Poitier


2. Gang’s All Here


3. A Dashing Harry With Aretha Franklin


4. Harry & Dorothy Dandridge


5. Harry & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


6. Smiling Through The Movement


7. The Leaders


8. Rest Easy, Harry!