One On One For Black History Month: Harry Belafonte

January 30, 2013 6:00 AM

Black History Month: 1010 WINS' Larry Mullins with Harry Belafonte

1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins with Harry Belafonte

By 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins
Produced for 1010 WINS radio by Sharon Barnes-Waters

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — They say your first passion is the one you choose. But your second, and most defining passion, is the one that chooses you.

Entertainer Harry Belafonte said he’ll vouch for that.

“I just never closed the door at anything that knocked,” he said.

And that’s why the New York-born singer and actor is also recognized as an activist.

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The handsome Harlem-raised crooner today is as famous for criticizing the former George W. Bush administration, as he is for songs like the Banana Boat tune.

“It became very evident to me very early on that I can confront injustice wherever I saw it,” Belafonte said. “It ain’t a fight if it ain’t big.”

And he’s been fighting for some time — alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 50s, he was even named a cultural advisor to the Peace Corp by President Kennedy in the 1960s.

Black History Month: 1010 WINS' Larry Mullins, Dave Plotkin, Chris Grant & Sharon Barnes-Waters with Harry Belafonte

Black History Month: 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins, Dave Plotkin, Chris Grant & Sharon Barnes-Waters with Harry Belafonte

His films like Bright Row with Dorothy Dandridge put him on the entertainment map — but he didn’t think he was all that good.

“You take a look at Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Leontyne Price, those people are good at it,” he said. “I was clever. I’ve convinced all the people in the world for this long that I’m a singer. Only a good actor could’ve done that.”

But he must’ve been doing something right. Belafonte racked up Grammy, Tony, Billboard, New York Film Critics Circle and Kennedy Center awards throughout his career.

He was attending George Washington High in the 1940s, when a building tenant gave him a pair of tickets to the American Negro Theater — and a career was born.

At the age of 85, Belafonte said he worked his moment – but still finds time to work it some more.

“I’m just looking for the new knock at the door,” he said.