Harry Belafonte to receive honorary Oscar

Belafonte waves to Dr. King at a civil rights march in Montgomery, Ala. in 1965.
Belafonte waves to Dr. King at a civil rights march in Montgomery, Ala. in 1965.

Actor Harry Belafonte is being honored by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for his humanitarian work. The honorary award will be received by Belafonte at the academy’s Governors Awards on November 8.

Though known as the “king of calypso” and having shared the screen with the likes of the gorgeous Dorothy Dandridge, Belafonte spent much of his life devoted to activism and fighting for equality issues; he was named a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador in 1987. Additionally, he was friends with and marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement.

His on-screen work was often a reflection of his activities off screen. The academy noted his films such as Carmen Jones, Odds Against Tomorrow and The World, the Flesh and the Devil strived to bring attention to the injustices of racism and inequality – a fight that never seems to end in this country.

According to USA Today, Belafonte, 87, will receive the the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which is given “to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”

“About my own life, I have no complaints,” Belafonte has stated. “Yet the problems faced by most Americans of color seem as dire and entrenched as they were half a century ago. And as I write this, our president has yet to acknowledge that this fact is of any concern to him..for all of his smoothness and intellect, Barack Obama seems to lack a fundamental empathy with the dispossessed, be they white or black.”

 

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