BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The world is mourning the loss of singer, actor and activist, Harry Belafonte. Belafonte had deep ties to Birmingham in both his activism and performances.

“He was somebody you might have thought of as immortal,” says Bob Friedman, director of the Birmingham Black Radio Museum.

Belafonte was inducted to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame April 11, 2013 because of his ties to the civil rights movement in Birmingham as well as his musical start in jazz clubs.

“That kind of person only comes along once in so many years,” says Leah Tucker, executive director of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Those who knew Belafonte said though he was known across the world, he was still humble and down to earth. The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and Birmingham Black Radio Museum remembered fondly the night Belafonte was inducted.

“It was like you could feel a gigantic presence. I mean, he was warm, he was charismatic,” says Tucker. “It’s like he was electric.”

“You felt defended, protected, he was a leader,” says Friedman. “He was a great singer and music, movie star and everything else, but he had great leadership strengths, you could feel it.”

Belafonte was described by many as a risk taker.

“The movement wasn’t something that was widely accepted and when you have individuals of his stature put their reputations on the line, their careers on the line, it mainstreamed the ideals that were being pushed for by civil rights advocates,” says Barry McNealy, historical content expert at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Whether known personally or through the big screen, one thing is certain, the legacy Belafonte left behind is one many believe we can continue to learn from today.

“What’s left behind for the younger generation and those that are coming up behind him is that hard work and how he used his artistic gifts to go across the board over into the civil rights era,” says Chalethia Williams, theater program coodinator at Miles College.

The exhibit with memorabilia from Belafonte’s Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame induction is scheduled to be available for the public to see in July.