Reflections from Jenique: Remembering Harry Belafonte

Jenique Jones

Dear WhyHunger Community,

Today, we gather to honor the remarkable life and legacy of Harry Belafonte on the one-year anniversary of his passing. As we reflect on his extraordinary contributions to music, activism, and social justice, I am reminded of the profound impact he had on my own journey, both personally and professionally.

My connection to Harry Belafonte started with my grandmother’s admiration for him, sparked by his charisma and talent. My uncle Kevin introduced me to his music, filling his home with catchy melodies. However, it was my uncle Tony who revealed Belafonte’s activism and pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement. Through him, I learned about Belafonte’s commitment to justice and his belief in music as a catalyst for change. Inspired by his legacy and some amazing high school teachers, I delved into the history of the Civil Rights Movement, gaining a deeper appreciation for Belafonte’s enduring impact.

His example, alongside others, inspired me to be socially active, to speak out against injustice, and to use my voice and platform to uplift historically marginalized communities. His music became a source of strength and inspiration, reminding me of the power of solidarity and the importance of standing together in the face of adversity.

Today, as the Executive Director of WhyHunger, I find myself in a full circle moment—a moment deeply intertwined with Harry Belafonte’s legacy. It fills me with immense pride to lead an organization that he supported throughout his lifetime. I think that Harry Belafonte and Harry Chapin, though from different backgrounds and eras, shared a profound commitment to social justice and used their platforms to advocate for positive change. Both men were passionate about addressing issues such as poverty, hunger, and social inequality, and they used their music and activism to raise awareness and inspire action. Whether it was Belafonte’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement or Chapin’s founding of WhyHunger, their dedication to making the world a better place through music and advocacy remains a powerful and enduring legacy.

And when I think about Belafonte’s emphasis on the importance of community empowerment, amplifying marginalized voices, and addressing the root causes of injustice, I see those same threads evident in WhyHunger’s work today.

As we remember Harry Belafonte today, let us not only celebrate his achievements but also recommit ourselves to the ideals for which he stood. May his spirit of activism and compassion inspire us to keep pushing forward, knowing that change is possible when we stand together in solidarity.

Thank you, Harry Belafonte, for your tireless dedication to justice and your unwavering commitment to making the world a better place. Your legacy lives on in the hearts and actions of those who continue to fight for justice and equality – including me.

In solidarity,