Harry Belafonte: Singer, activist and first Black Emmy winner
This is one of our nine most surprising, historic and memorable moments from past Emmys. See the full list.
Harry Belafonte became the first Black person to win an Emmy at the 1960 awards ceremony, for his performance in “The Revlon Revue: Tonight With Belafonte.” The hourlong CBS variety special showcased historical and contemporary musical styles of Black America, including gospel, blues and jazz. The entertainer performed a number of songs, among them the powerful verses of “Bald Headed Woman,” the hypnotic folk song “Sylvie” and the melancholic tempo of “Suzanne.” Special guest Odetta Holmes, the influential singer and human rights activist, performed with Belafonte — an episode that can be watched online today. Before making Emmy history, Belafonte was a civil rights activist and confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. Now 95 years old, he is an icon in the industry and has been honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, a National Medal of Arts and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
From the Oscars to the Emmys.
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