Entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte has lived a long, eventful life that started in New York and has seen him all over the world. Having received countless awards for his humanitarian efforts, Belafonte has finally been honored at home.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York Public Library (NYPL) announced that the Harlem native will have one of the Library’s branches renamed in his honor. Befittingly, the 115th Street Library will now operate under a new moniker, the Harry Belafonte-115th Street Library.
"On March 1st 90 years ago, I was born here. Harlem holds a very special place in my heart, and I'm so honored that I will now have a special place in Harlem. A library is a place for people to come together, to learn about their world and explore new ideas...I am hopeful that when people come to this place that will now bear my name, they will be inspired to learn about some of the pursuits I've held most dear -- music, writing and social justice," said Belafonte.
In a recent New York Times profile, Belafonte recalls his fondest memories of Harlem and the city as a whole, recounting how a chance encounter with a customer he met while working as a janitor’s assistant resulted in him coming into the presence of other African American entertainers and activists that included Ossie Davis, Sidney Poitier, Mile Davis, and so many others. His New York experiences very much crafted him into the extraordinary humanitarian that he is today.
It is my honor and privilege to work with the New York Public Library to honor Mr. Belafonte and celebrate the life and accomplishment of this invaluable New Yorker,” declared Mayor de Blasio.
- Harry Belafonte Knows a Thing or Two About New York [New York Times]