The 89-year-old star, who is set to release an album in March (17) in celebration of his 90th birthday, marked the event celebrating African American history by reflecting on his history as a civil rights activist in a special interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

Speaking about his hope that one day racism would be a thing of the past, he said, "Most of the things that fuel prejudice, that fuel hate, that fuel a sense of difference that's unacceptable, are contrived.

"If we accept the fact that much of what we do is based on what we've been taught to do, then I think we stand a fair chance at beating this game of perceived difference between one another. The differences that exist between us should be things that attract us to one another."

As well as popularising calypso music in the U.S., the star, real name Harold George Bellanfanti, Jr., was an early supporter and confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King in his struggle to fight for equal rights for African Americans.

Belafonte, who used earnings from his music to fund civil rights campaigns including the famous 1961 Freedom Rides, told the magazine that he viewed his legendary career as a means that allowed him to speak out about injustice.

"(Performing) gave me a chance to say things about the world in which I lived," he explains. "It gave me a chance to make political commentary, to make social statements, to talk about things that I found that were unpleasant - and things that I found that were inspiring."

When Colors Come Together ... the Legacy of Harry Belafonte, a compilation of Belafonte's songs picked for their resonance with Belafonte, will be released on 1 March (17), his 90th birthday.

The album will include a new version of his hit When Colors Come Together (Our Island in the Sun), featuring a children's choir.