Harry Belafonte’s long and respected personal history as a humanitarian earned him a distinguished honor in New York on Wednesday evening.
The 90-year-old singer, actor and activist was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Jefferson Awards Foundation, which identifies itself as the nation’s most prestigious and long-standing organization dedicated to powering and celebrating public service. Belafonte, who was recognized alongside other notable people who took home separate awards like Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, proudly accepted his honor and made a plea for us all to keep fighting for human rights.
“It’s a pleasure to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jefferson Awards Foundation,” Belafonte said in a statement to The Huffington Post. Former recipients of the award include tennis star Billie Jean King and journalist Tom Brokaw.
“Throughout my life, I’ve been committed to social change and while this is a celebration of the progress we’ve made, there is still work to be done in the fight for human rights and racial unity,” Belafonte added.
Belafonte’s activism spans six decades, during which he worked with and fought alongside some of the leading figures of the civil rights movement. As an actor and singer, he used his platform to speak out about the need for social justice and has been dedicated to this cause throughout much of his career.
In his speech Wednesday night, Belafonte, who founded a nonprofit social justice organization called the Sankofa Justice & Equity Fund, commended historical figures like Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela for leading lives of service, and now calls on others to continue their fight against injustice.
“I hope this inspires others to take it upon themselves to act,” he said to HuffPost about being recognized with the award. “I know firsthand that the impact is much greater when we band together, and organizations like the Jefferson Awards Foundation, who believe in the power of social good, are enabling people of all ages to change the world.”
To watch the full awards ceremony, head here.