The singer, songwriter and activist Harry Belafonte died yesterday (April 26).

This was a particularly sad moment for me. Belafonte’s music was a connection that my dad, my grandfather and I shared.

“Jamaica Farewell,” one of Belafonte’s more emotional tunes, was my grandfather’s favorite.

The music was also part of a playlist my dad used to play in his truck when I was little.

Among the artists we listened to was Belafonte. In that same truck, my dad would let me shift for him to teach me some standard driving.

Belafonte’s music also livened up a now timeless classic: Beetlejuice.

His songs are known by many.

But the other side of him that was admired by many was his activist side.

Belafonte campaigned with Martin Luther King Jr. and coordinated Nelson Mandela’s first visit to the United States.

Many of his songs were metaphors for the hardships citizens in Kingston, Jamaica, went through. My grandfather’s favorite song was about the human trafficking that took place there.

I still listen to Belafonte on a regular basis and hope his message is heard for many generations to come.