One of Jamaica’s highways is to be named in honour of renowned singer and actor and civil rights activist of Jamaican parentage, Harry Belafonte.
So said Jamaica’s Prime Minister, The Most Hon. Andrew Holness, in a message to mark Belafonte’s 95th birthday anniversary on March 1.
“As we celebrate with Harry Belafonte his 95 years, the Government and people of Jamaica…. in this our 60th year of Independence… will name one of our highways after our Titan, in his honor and in recognition of the long road to freedom Harry Belafonte has traversed on behalf of our people,” the Prime Minister said.
He pointed out that Belafonte “is an icon whose pristine voice, soaring melodies, and music on the global stage, magically matched the rhythm and power of his stride in the march for equal rights, justice, and empowerment.
In saluting his 95 years, the Prime Minister said, “Harry Belafonte’s fierce defence of the dignity and integrity of our people has inspired us to make our own commitment to the struggle towards the fuller, mental freedom asserted by Garvey”.
Referring to Belafonte as a humanitarian and an activist, he said his unflinching stance for upliftment of the Black race, must be celebrated.
“His has been a constant voice against racial prejudice not only in the United States of America but in South Africa and anywhere in the world that injustice reared its ugly head,” he declared.
Prime Minister Holness also said that over the years, Belafonte “decried colonial oppression and has given a life of service to the campaign for the elimination of chronic poverty and disease, under-education, and economic hardships”.
He said the name “Harry Belafonte” is forever affectionately associated with uniting artists, philanthropists, and businessmen in the cause for African redemption. The very well-known USA for Africa was one of his initiatives.
“Harry Belafonte has walked with kings and presidents yet has never lost the common touch. From Jamaica to Rwanda to Kenya to Senegal, he has given voice to the voiceless and hope to the downtrodden”.
“Born in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican parents, Belafonte experienced the spiritual re-awakening inspired by the poets of the Harlem Renaissance. Additionally, his time in a culturally rich and politically and historically potent Jamaica, together with his association with his mentor, Paul Robeson, and his spiritual backbone, Martin Luther King Jr., propelled him courageously forward,” Prime Minister Holness concluded.