With a Tony, four Grammys, and an Emmy under his belt Harry Belafonte knows the power of hard work. He didn’t stop at a career in entertainment though, but continued on to become both a Unicef goodwill ambassador and an active civil rights advocate. Throughout his life of achievement, Belafonte has struggled with dyslexia but never let it stop him from using language both in song and protest to express himself and what he stood for.

Early in Belafonte’s life, his mom made a point to stress the importance of school. He said that she had a “passion for education” and tried her hardest to get him through school despite his dyslexia and their poor financial situation. When he was 17 though, Belafonte dropped out of school and joined the navy. He later admits that “the guilt stayed with me forever” for making that decision because he knew how hard his mom worked with him to overcome the hardships of school. It was after his service in the navy that Belafonte began his passion in entertainment, an interest that he would soon nurture into his award-winning career.

Beyond his entertainment and social activism careers, Belafonte has also dedicated much time and financial support to the cause of dyslexia. In August of 2013 he was a keynote speaker at the Yale symposium on dyslexia and even today he remains on the Board of Advocates for Understood.org, a nonprofit online group of organizations dedicated to supporting parents of children who have learning or attention impairments. Throughout his work across many fields, Belafonte never let dyslexia prevent him from making another mistake like dropping out of school. He worked for goals in which he believed in, always stepping over the obstacle of his disability.

Read more about Harry Belafonte’s achievements here.