UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador from 1987 to 2023
"I didn’t anticipate that serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador would have such remarkable rewards. I am deeply grateful to UNICEF for giving me the opportunity to serve for so long."
Harry Belafonte was known worldwide for his achievements as a singer, actor and producer, and for his commitment to human rights. Harry established a long and distinguished record of human rights advocacy during the American Civil Rights movement in the 1950s. In 1987, he was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Harry’s dedication and generosity helped set a high standard for the role of Goodwill Ambassador. An eloquent campaigner for the world’s children, Harry met with world leaders to champion the cause of UNICEF and secure support for the issues that impact children's lives. His legacy includes advocating for primary health care, treatment for HIV/AIDS, and free access to education for all.
Born in Harlem, New York, Harry moved to his mother’s native Jamaica, where he discovered the folk music that would become his trademark. His album Calypso was the first in history to sell more than a million copies.
As an actor, Harry won a Tony Award for his Broadway performance in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac. He was the first African American man to win an Emmy – for his television music special Tonight with Harry Belafonte.
In 1960, Harry was named Cultural Adviser to the Peace Corps. He later organized the multi-artist recording “We Are the World,” which won the 1985 Grammy Award for Record of the Year and raised millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa.
Harry was the recipient of numerous honours. In 1994, he received the National Medal of the Arts from US President Bill Clinton. He was also awarded the Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Award of Excellence in recognition of his humanitarian work and the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award for 25 years of service to UNICEF.
Harry Belafonte died in New York in 2023. He served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for 36 years.