Hollywood remembers Harry Belafonte as a 'shining example of how to … make change'

Actors, musicians, filmmakers, authors and more have gathered on social media to celebrate the life and career of Harry Belafonte, who died Tuesday in New York. He was 96.

Questlove, Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Mia Farrow, Jeffrey Wright, Ice Cube and Oprah Winfrey were among the first to honor the revered singer, actor and civil rights activist by sharing quotes, condolences and fond memories on Instagram and Twitter.

“May God Have My Dear Friend HARRY BELAFONTE At A Peaceful Rest,” wrote Lee, who directed Belafonte in his final film, “BlacKkKlansman.” “We Are Losing Our Giants Left And Right. We Have To Celebrate Our Elders While They Are With Us.”

“Another ‘GREAT TREE’ has fallen: Harry Belafonte, a Trailblazer and Hero to us all,” actor and TV host Winfrey wrote. “Thank you for your music, your artistry, your activism, your fight for civil rights and justice — especially risking your life back in the day to get money to the movement. Your being here on Earth has Blessed us all.”

On Instagram, musician and filmmaker Questlove remembered Belafonte as a “shining example of how to use your platform to make change in the world” and recalled how the performer’s contributions to the anti-apartheid movement influenced his Oscar-winning documentary, “Summer of Soul.”

“He represented many things to us: fun calypso music, iconic acting (I came to know him as #GeechieDan in the iconic #UptownSaturdayNight as a child) — but most importantly he taught me to think in terms of ‘WE’ not ‘I,’” Questlove wrote.

“That stuck with me. If there is one lesson we can learn from him it is ‘what can I do to help mankind?’ Thank You Harry Belafonte!”

On Twitter, veteran rapper and actor Ice Cube hailed Belafonte as “more than a singer, more than an actor and more than a man,” adding that the late entertainer “will be missed.”

Actors Farrow and Wright also took to Twitter to pay tribute to Belafonte. Farrow reflected on “what a wonderful world” Earth would be if more people were like him, while Wright said he’ll “never forget” the day Belafonte approached him on the street and complimented his performance in “Angels in America” on Broadway.

“We have lost the great Harry Belafonte-beautiful singer, brilliant and brave civil rights activist, a deeply moral and caring man. Miss you already Harry,” Farrow tweeted. “Harry’s life shines as an example for all of us to strive for. He lived for humankind. He stood against injustice — not only here but in South Africa & around the world.”

“Harry Belafonte was a standard bearer, in the tradition of [Paul] Robeson, for generational artistry and deeply informed & committed social & political engagement. Maybe the last of a great tribe. As smart as he was knockdown handsome,” Wright tweeted. “He met the moment thruout his life. What a man. RIP.”

Rather than speaking on Belafonte’s legacy, director DuVernay eulogized her “ancestor” in his own words by sharing the following quote on Instagram:

“There were two choices that one could make… One was to do the art of the Eurocentric, which many chose to do, and try to do that art in as perfected a way as you possibly can. There’s one thing that’s gonna always be true about that fact or that choice. And that is that you’ll never touch the soul of who you are, because that’s not what your inner soul is experiencing. Every attempt to do something that spoke to the greater truth and the greater glory of what our inner souls were about was what I tried to do.”

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