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Official Statement From The Board of Bishops upon the Death of Harry Belafonte


The Board of Bishops of The A.M.E. Zion Church join with the global voices lamenting the death and celebrating the life of Harry Belafonte, a human rights, social justice, and entertainment icon who used his platform to lift others, confront racism, and advance the causes of freedom and equality.

Harry Belafonte’s courage, commitment, compassion, and charisma combined to make him one of the most consequential celebrity activists during the Civil Rights era and beyond. Without seeking attention, he raised money for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, provided financial support for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his movement, and even the King family. Belafonte generously funded organizations like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the 1963 March on Washington.

Beyond the Civil Rights Movement, he mobilized political and cultural leaders, along with celebrities toward activism to support the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement and USA for Africa. In recent years, Belafonte has used his celebrity status and voice to urge Americans, including young blacks and latinos to exercise their right to vote.

Harry Belafonte once noted that Paul Robeson was a mentor of his who gave him a backbone and that Rev. Martin Luther King was a mentor who nurtured his soul. As the Freedom Church, we pause to reflect on the legacy of Harry Belafonte as a life lived out loud with a melodious harmony of love, justice, and soul.

Done this 25th Day of April, 2023

The Board of Bishops of The A.M.E. Zion Church

Bishop W. Darin Moore, President of the Board of Bishops

Bishop Kenneth Monroe, Senior Bishop

Bishop Darryl B. Starnes

Bishop Dennis V. Proctor

Bishop Mildred B. Hines (Deceased)

Bishop Seth O. Lartey

Bishop Michael A. Frencher, Sr.

Bishop George D. Crenshaw

Bishop Hilliard Dogbe

Bishop U.U. Effiong

Bishop Brian R. Thompson, Sr.

Bishop Eric Leake

Bishop Joseph Johnson (Retired)

Bishop Marshall H. Strickland (Retired)

Bishop Nathaniel Jarrett (Retired)

Bishop George W. Walker Sr. (Retired)

ishop S. Chuka Ekemam, Sr. (Retired)

Bishop Warren M. Brown (Retired)

Bishop George E. Battle, Jr. (Retired)