Birth Name: Harold George Belafonete, Jr.
Place of Birth: Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Date of Birth: March 1, 1927
*Sephardi Jewish, Afro-Jamaican (father)
*Afro-Jamaican, Irish-Scottish (mother)
Harry Belafonte is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and activist. He is the son of Melvine (Love) and Harold George Belanfanti/Bellanfanti. His parents were Jamaican. Harry was sent to boarding school in Jamaica, until his return to the U.S. for high school. Among Harry’s children are actresses Shari Belafonte and Gina Belafonte.
Harry’s paternal grandmother was black. Harry’s paternal grandfather was said to be a Dutch Jew who moved to the Caribbean. It is not clear if this is accurate, but there are Dutch Jews with the surname “Belinfante”.
Harry’s maternal grandparents were William Love and Sarah Jane Clarke (the daughter of Henry Clarke and Alice “Elsie” Allen). William was black. Sarah was white, and had Irish and Scottish ancestry.
In Harry’s autobiography, My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance (2012), on pages 12 and 16, he wrote:
My mother, Melvine Love, was a true Jamaican beauty of twenty-one, with dark eyes, high cheekbones, and a trim figure she held so straight that no one ever failed to note her sense of pride and purpose. She was one of thirteen children born to a farming family up in the mountains of St. Ann Parish, on the island’s north coast, her café au lait skin the telltale sign of her interracial roots. Her father was a black sharecropper, her mother the white daughter of a Scottish father who’d come to Jamaica to oversee a plantation for an absentee owner…
Harold was Jamaican and, like Millie, the child of a mixed-race union. His mother was a black Jamaican, his father a white Dutch Jew who’d drifted over to the islands after chasing gold and diamonds, with no luck at all, in the newly formed colonies of West Africa.
Sources: Genealogy of Harry Belafonte (focusing on his mother’s side) – http://www.geni.com
Information on Harry’s mother’s family – http://www.genealogy.com
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