Singer, Actor & Activist Harry Belafonte Receives Honorary Doctorate From Berklee
Singer-songwriter, actor, activist and icon Harry Belafonte Jr. was presented an honorary doctor of music degree from Boston’s Berklee College of Music on Thursday, March 6, 2014, which also featured a concert in his honor.
Students and faculty of the college performed the celebration of Belafonte’s life and music, from “Day-O” (The Banana Boat Song) to “We are the World.”
A confidante of Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, he fought against racial prejudice in the United States, but also western colonialism in Africa, and refused to perform in the South 1954 until 1961.
He is also guarded as a humanitarian and political activist. In the 1980s he helped start the USA for Africa project to fight hunger, and also pushed for an end to apartheid in South Africa, and since 1987, he has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Belafonte has won three Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award. In 1989 he received the Kennedy Center Honors and he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994.
In the course of his 65 year career, he has starred in films such as Carmen Jones (1954), Uptown Saturday Night (1974), and most recently Bobby in 2006. He has also had various television roles, and he has released over 40 albums, four of which have been certified Gold.
Other recipients of Berklee’s honorary doctorate have included Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Steven Tyler, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin and Quincy Jones.
Watch some highlights from the Berklee ceremony below: