According to statistics, there are some three million Jamaicans or people of Jamaican descent living in other countries around the world. Quite a few of them have achieved popularity in a number of fields over the years, including politics and public service, the arts, sports and more. Last year, we featured a number of these outstanding sons and daughters of Jamaica, and since there are so many more famous faces out there with Jamaican roots, it’s only right that we bring you part two. After all, there are so many more.
Harry Belafonte – Legendary actor, singer and civil rights activist was born Harold George Bellanfanti, Jr in Harlem, New York, to a Jamaican mother and a Martiniquan father. At five years old, he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother in rural St Ann, Jamaica, after his parents divorced and spent eight years here. He has said Jamaica is probably the place that has had the most impact on his values, thinking and direction in life. In order to pay for his acting classes, the struggling Belafonte worked as a club singer, starting out with pop before discovering folk music. His first film role was alongside the famed Dorothy Dandridge in Bright Road (1953), and the two would team up again for the iconic Carmen Jones a year later. Two years later, his big musical break came in 1956 with the release of the album Calypso, which included the famous Banana Boat Song (Day O). Belafonte is the first African American to receive an Emmy for Revlon Revue: Tonight with Belafonte in 1959. As an activist, Belafonte supported the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and was one of Martin Luther King Jr’s confidants. He was also one of the organisers behind the Grammy-winning charity single We Are The World, which raised funds for famine relief in Africa. He was recognised by publishers Carib News in 2012 for his outstanding contribution to the arts and received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences arm of the Oscars in 2014.