Actor/Singer/Activist Harry Belafonte passed away on Tuesday at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was 96. The cause of death, according to his longtime publicist and friend, Ken Sunshine, was congestive heart failure. His career began in the 50s, and his talent superseded the color of his skin breaking race barriers in the Pop and Folk music scene. He would go on to storm the Hollywood movie business and solidify himself as a world-renowned superstar.

His success never allowed him to forget who he was or where he came from, as he was an incredible force to reckon with in the Civil Rights Movement. He was a proud but sometimes complicated man. Later, he wrote an autobiography looking over his life and career. Belafonte wrote,

“About my own life, I have no complaints,” he continued. “Yet the problems faced by most Americans of color seem as dire and entrenched as they were half a century ago.”

His parents were immigrants of West Indian descent. Despite being born in Harlem, Harry Belafonte rose to fame, sparking a music frenzy with Caribbean songs. With hit records like iconic “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell,” found on his album “Calypso,” he shot straight to the top of the Billboard charts. The 1956 album road the #1 spot for an amazing 31 weeks and made history as the first album to sell more than a million copies by a solo artist!

Thank you, Mr. Belafonte, for your musical and acting talent. But most of all, for giving yourself to the struggle of other human beings. A champion of the Civil Rights Movement and an iconic human being that leaves behind a legacy that will live forever.

Harry Belafonte, gone at 96. May his memory be a blessing, and soul rest in eternal power—our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

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