Resources for Teachers and Students on Harry Belafonte
Prepare: In 1987, recording artist Harry Belafonte
was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador through the United
Nations. His official biography can be found on the UNICEF
Harry Belafonte's Architects
of Peace essay is excerpted from a magazine article
titled, "Is America a Burning House?: We Need a Voice
of Moral Courage to Offer a Vision for the Twenty-First
Century." In it, he discusses the need for the emergence
of a new generation of black activists.
Explore: On his way to earning Grammy, Emmy and
Tony awards, Harry Belafonte has always been outspoken politically,
and over the years has broadened his focus from civil rights
to human rights in general. His focus recently has been
on the AIDS crisis, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where
over 60% of all people living with HIV currently reside
despite the fact that the region only comprises 10% of the
world's population. The latest statistical information on
the crisis in this area is available through UNAIDS,
the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.
Write: In his Architects of Peace essay, Harry Belafonte
states that Black Americans "must stop relying on Democrats
or Republicans or institutions that oppress us, and take
responsibility for ourselves." Is this a sound strategy?
Can underrepresented persons further their cause by circumventing
the established political process? At what point is it better
for minority groups to be part of the system, and at what
point is it better for such groups to leave the system behind?
What are the implications for peace within a society when
disenfranchised groups opt out of the political system?
Write a two-to-three page persuasive essay that takes a
stand on these questions.
Extend: A little more than twenty years ago, Harry
Belafonte helped to organize a fundraising effort to fight
famine in Africa under the banner "U.S.A
for Africa." What resulted was one of the largest
hit singles of all times, a song called "We Are The
World," on which 45 recording stars participated in
an all-night recording session where they were first instructed
to "check your egos at the door."
Additional Resource: For more information on the
United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, please visit the UNAIDS
Biography of Harry