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Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) is a national annual convention in New York City honoring the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The convention brings together influential national leaders in civil rights, government, labor, the church, business, politics, media and activism, to assess where we are today. NAN’s is on the forefront fighting for justice and equality for all who deserve. Some of the topics that will be addressed at the National Convention will include issues of civil rights, education, gun-violence, labor, health-care and the state of black media.
Harry Belafonte was born Harold George Bellanfanti, Jr. in Harlem, New York on March 1, 1927. He is of Jamaican descent; his mother was born in Jamaica, the child of a Scottish white mother and a black father. His father also was born in Jamaica from Martinique, the child of a black mother and Dutch Jewish father of Sephardi origins. Belafonte is a singer, songwriter, actor, author, and social activist. One of the most successful African-American pop stars in history, he was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. His breakthrough album Calypso in 1956 is the first million selling LP by a single artist. Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing “The Banana Boat Song”, with its signature lyric “Day-O”. He has recorded in many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes, and American standards. In 1949, he took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German director Erwin Piscator alongside Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Walter Matthau, Bea Arthur, and Sidney Poitier, while performing with the American Negro Theatre. He subsequently received a Tony Award for his participation in the Broadway revue John Murray Anderson’s Almanac in 1953. Shortly after he starred in several films, most notably in Otto Preminger’s hit musical Carmen Jones in 1954, Island in the Sun in 1957 and Robert Wise’s Odds Against Tomorrow in 1959. Belafonte was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, and one of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s confidants. Throughout his career he has been an advocate for political and humanitarian causes, such as the anti-apartheid movement and USA for Africa. Since 1987 he has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Harry Belafonte now acts as the American Civil Liberties Union celebrity ambassador for juvenile justice issues. Belafonte has won three Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award. In 1989 he received the Kennedy Center Honors. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994. On November 8, 2014, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy’s 6th Annual Governors Awards presented to him by Sidney Poitier. In 2014, along with his daughter Gina Belafonte, he founded the Sankofa Justice & Equity Fund, a non-profit social justice organization that utilizes the power of culture and celebrity in partnership with activism. In March 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Through the years he has been a vocal critic of the US policies and presidents, but hope was gained in 2016 becoming a surrogate for Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders. In November 2016, he was honored as a Library Lion at the Library Lions gala. In February 2017, The New York Public Library (NYPL) and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the Library has decided to name the branch after the Harlem born icon, the Harry Belafonte –115th Street Library. Please visit over a dozen photo-articles we have published on Mr. Belafonte.