Harlem library being renamed after Harry Belafonte

February 16, 2017 GMT

The New York Public Library (NYPL) and Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the Library has decided to adopt a new name for Harlem’s 115th Street Library. The Executive Committee of the Library’s Board of Trustees voted Wednesday evening to name the branch the Harry Belafonte –115th Street Library.

The Library chose to name the branch to reflect the values and passions of the community in which it is located and to honor Belafonte, who grew up in Harlem and has since been a vital part of the Harlem and larger community.

“On March 1st 90 years ago, I was born here. Harlem holds a very special place in my heart, and I’m so honored that I will now have a special place in Harlem,” Belefonte said. “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,”

Recently, Belafonte founded the Sankofa Justice & Equity Fund, a non-profit social justice organization that utilizes the power of culture and celebrity in partnership with activism. In November 2014, Belafonte received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In November at the 2016 Library Lions gala, Belafonte was honored as a Library Lion.

NYPL President Tony Marx said the library is proud to honor Belafonte because of his Harlem roots and deep dedication to both social justice.

“This branch and all of our libraries strengthen New York City’s diverse communities by offering free and open access to information and opportunity – values that Mr. Belafonte has stood for over his long and distinguished career,” Marx said. “We thank the Mayor for his support in celebrating the legacy of this incredible New Yorker.”