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 website.

Read: 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 homepage.

Biography of Harry Belafonte