Sidney Poitier, the Oscar-winning actor who died on January 7th at the age of 94, was mourned around the world. Eugene Torchon-Newry, the acting director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed Poitier’s death.
According to stories, Poitier rose to the pinnacle of his profession despite coming from a poor family in the Bahamas and eliminating his strong tropical accent at a time when Black artists had limited options. In 1963’s “Lilies of the Field,” he earned an Academy Award for his performance as an itinerant worker who helps a group of White Catholics builds a church.
Following the news of Sidney’s death, celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Jeffrey Wright, and others took to social media to pay tribute to the renowned actor. Images of Sidney and good thoughts about how he helped the African-American population in Hollywood breakthrough barriers dominated many of the tributes. Jeffrey shared a photo of Sidney with a heartfelt message. Garcelle Beauvais shared a snapshot of herself and Sidney on Instagram. “Thank you, Mr. Poitier, for your Legacy!!” she wrote. You embodied what it meant to be extraordinary! She added, “Rest in strength.”
He briefly served in the army before beginning his acting career. The American Negro Theater was his next stop in New York City. He worked as a janitor in exchange for acting classes. Sidney’s first professional stage role was Lysistrata, which he followed up with Anna Lucasta. Sidney made his big-screen debut in 1950 with No Way Out.
Sidney continued to make films until 2001. He made his final acting appearance in the television movie The Last Brickmaker in America. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009, and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom knighted him in 1974. He also represented the Bahamas in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
Poitier defied the Hollywood cliché that Black actors could only portray humiliating characters like shoeshine boys, train conductors, or odd-serving occupations by carefully selecting his roles.