Actor, recording star and humanitarian Harry Belafonte was born on this day in 1927 in Harlem, New York. As a singer, Belafonte was dubbed “The King of Calypso” in the 1950s, as he helped popularized the Caribbean musical style. Belafonte also starred in many Hollywood films in the 1950s and more recent decades, including his first role in Bright Road in 1953, where he appeared alongside Dorothy Dandridge. As a social activist, Belafonte is celebrated for his support of the civil rights movement, during which he served as a close advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, and for his support of HIV/AIDS awareness programs in Africa. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Also on this day, Merlie Evers-Williams, wife of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, was born on this day in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1933. She preserved her late husband’s legacy by writing several books chronicling his contributions to the civil rights movement after he was shot to death by a white supremacist in 1963. She worked tirelessly until her husband’s murderer was finally brought to justice in 1994. The following year, she became the first woman to head the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served in the position until 1998.
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