Harry Belafonte, citing commitments to the black struggle in South Africa and the fight against world hunger, announced today that he will not seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
The singer-turned activist told a news conference he had been encouraged by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and others to oppose incumbent Republican Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato. However, he said, "The opportunity came at a time that was totally inappropriate."
Belafonte, 59, said he consulted with South African activist Winnie Mandela regarding activities for her and her imprisoned husband, Nelson. Belafonte said she told him that if he ran for the Senate, he'd have to relegate his responsibilities to somebody else.
Relative Unknowns in Race
His departure leaves two relative unknowns vying for the Democratic nomination--Mark Green, a former associate of consumer activist Ralph Nader, and Franklin Havlicek, an NBC executive.
Last year, former vice presidential candidate Geraldine A. Ferraro and Brooklyn Dist. Atty. Elizabeth Holtzman announced they would not seek the Democratic nomination to run against D'Amato.
Belafonte came to national attention in 1956 with the Calypso hit "Jamaica Farewell." He quickly branched out into acting in such movies as "Island in the Sun." He was a close supporter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s and has recently been involved in campaigns such as USA for Africa to fight hunger.