Harry Belafonte

by ethnic on October 24, 2009

Birth Name: Harold George Belafonete, Jr.

Place of Birth: Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Birth: March 1, 1927

Ethnicity:
*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

https://books.google.ca

Information on Harry’s mother’s family – http://www.genealogy.com

cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

neiltennant July 14, 2017 at 9:36 am

NO WONDER that his daughter shari belafonte as a 20 something girl looked white on some pictures

madman December 28, 2016 at 1:43 am

I think his ethnicity should be divided into father and mother, that way you see directly that both his parents are biracial.

follers December 28, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Does the current wording imply that he’s directly biracial?

madman December 27, 2016 at 1:23 am

Change Afro-Martiniquais to Afro-Jamaican. He wrote that his father was Jamaican and had a black Jamaican mother.

madman March 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Harry’s own words, from his book “My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race & Defiance”, could be included (of which many of the quotes from the articles andrew submitted is derived from):

“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.”

(Millie was Harry’s mother’s nickname)

andrew February 24, 2016 at 2:42 am

There is no doubt “Belinfante” is a Sephardi Jewish family (originally from Iberia). “Dutch Jewish” should be put before Afro-Martiniquais

passingtime85 February 23, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Correction. Should his Jewish heritage be mentioned in his profile, or is it just hearsay and conjecture?

andrew February 23, 2016 at 2:39 pm

“Both of Harry’s parents were from the West Indies, and both of them had one white parent. Belafonte Sr., from Martinique (F.W.I.), gave up his French citizenship during World War I to become a British subject. Melvine Love Belafonte was from Jamaica (B. W. I.). Harry’s maternal grandmother and his paternal grandfather were both white”

Genia Fogelson – “Harry Belafonte”

https://books.google.com/books?id=Oadlz5gMG9UC&pg=PA13&lpg=PA13&dq=harry+belafonte+martinique&source=bl&ots=Uofp4uPKnX&sig=Lje6AN1E8MPBELfSDZE0LXvWR1k&hl=it&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjrqb2Y9Y7LAhXGPZoKHSmiBfUQ6AEILTAC#v=onepage&q=harry%20belafonte%20martinique&f=false

“Melvine was “a true Jamaican beauty”, thanks to her sharecropper father’s island roots. Her mother, Belafonte’s grandmother, was the white daughter of a Scottish father who had come to Jamaica to oversee a plantation for an absentee owner. Belafonte’s father, Harold (whose surname is actually ‘Bellanfanti’) was also mixed-race – black Jamaican mother, white Dutch Jew father”

http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/interview-harry-belafonte-singer-1-2321445#ixzz4126RB9zl

fuzzybear44 September 14, 2013 at 5:43 am

What’s with him and danny glover?
http://www.peterbronson.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/danny-glover_harry-belafonte1.jpg

Are all these celebs coming out?

andrew September 14, 2013 at 5:50 am

I never suspected about Glover :))

fuzzybear44 September 14, 2013 at 6:27 am

You think maybe,the wife needs to be worried?
http://www3.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Harry+Belafonte+Bing+Presents+Sing+Song+Official+L4yLjFyGbFHl.jpg

or maybe danny is just trying to resuscitate him

saundra daryab January 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Harry Belafonte”s grandmother was half white and half black and his grandfather was white.

ethnic January 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

hmm interesting info, do you have a source for that though?

andrew September 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm

I presume he has French ancestry from Martinique

andrew September 13, 2013 at 7:12 pm

his original surname is “Bellanfanti”, comes from French “belles enfants” that means “beautiful children”

ethnic October 26, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Mixed one thanks for the comment. an interesting fact.

ethnic
admin

Mixed one October 26, 2009 at 10:22 am

Belafonte’s parents were emigrants from the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Jamaica, and he lived with his mother during her 1935–40 return to Jamaica

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