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Officials Rename Harlem Library After Civil Rights Icon Harry Belafonte

By Dartunorro Clark | February 13, 2017 5:21pm
 The singer was born and raised in Harlem and one of the leading voices in the Civil Rights Movement.
The singer was born and raised in Harlem and one of the leading voices in the Civil Rights Movement.
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Wikipedia Commons

HARLEM — Civil rights icon, entertainer and Harlem native Harry Belafonte will have a library dedicated to him, city officials announced Monday.

The 115th Street branch library will bear Belafonte’s name to honor his “drive and impact in the realms of social justice, civil rights, culture, and activism, especially in the Harlem community,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The Executive Committee of the Library's Board of Trustees voted this past Wednesday in favor of the renaming. 

Belafonte was born in Harlem in 1927, attended P.S. 186 in Hamilton Heights and George Washington High School in Fort George and developed his acting chops at the Schomburg Center’s American Negro Theater.

He is well-known for popularizing Calypso music in the 1950s, but also for being one of the leading voices during the Civil Rights Movement.

New York Public Library officials said the choice was part of the library’s push to name local branches after noted natives.

“The library is proud to honor… Belafonte, whose Harlem roots and deep dedication to both social justice and the spread of knowledge make him a perfect namesake for the 115th Street Library," said Tony Marx, the head of NYPL, in a statement.

Belafonte said he was grateful for the honor and hopes it will encourage patrons to educate themselves on social justice issues.

“Harlem holds a very special place in my heart and I'm so honored that I will now have a special place in Harlem," he said in a statement.

"A library is a place for people to come together, to learn about their world and explore new ideas, things I've tried to do my entire life.

“I am hopeful that when people come to this place that will now bear my name, they will be inspired to learn about some of the pursuits I've held most dear—music, writing and social justice.”