The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Statement On The Passing Of Harry Belafonte

The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) community mourns the immense loss of Harry Belafonte, an iconic award-winning singer and actor, steadfast civil rights activist, and our dear friend and Advisory Board member. He passed away today, April 25, 2023, at age 96 in Manhattan. He is survived by his wife, Pamela Frank, four children, two step-children, eight grandchildren, and three step-grandchildren.

Born in 1927 in Harlem to West Indian immigrants, Harry Belafonte rose to fame during the 1950s, a period of intense segregation. Not only did Belafonte transcend racial boundaries through his craft, but he was the first Black American to reach such staggering heights in entertainment. “Calypso,” his album containing hits like “Day-O” and “Jamaica Farewell,” was the first album by a single artist to sell more than a million copies. His reputation as a singer led to roles as the leading man on screen in Hollywood.

Despite his undeniable success as an entertainer, civil rights were always Belafonte’s primary concern and priority. A close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., Belafonte helped to fund and fundraise for both the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, he counseled King, bailed activists out of jail, and participated in the March on Washington in 1963.

After the Freedom Summer of 1964 when Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Schwerner were murdered for registering Black Americans to vote, Belafonte developed a close relationship with the Goodman family and a deep friendship with Carolyn Goodman, Andrew’s mother, in particular. Prior to Freedom Summer, the Goodman family had met Belafonte as a performer, with David Goodman, Andrew’s brother and a member of AGF’s Advisory Board, first meeting Belafonte at only 10 years old in 1956.

As a member of The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Advisory Board, Belafonte continued to support Andrew’s legacy and voting access for young people throughout his long life. He was unflinchingly committed to civil rights, racial justice, and equality for all Americans. The Andrew Goodman Foundation is incredibly grateful to Harry Belafonte for his life of activism, service, and friendship. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time.