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Sidney Poitier: Pioneering black movie star and activist

Sidney Poitier, who died at the age of 94, was a pioneering black movie star who opened the door to racial minorities decades before the #OscarsSoWhite and Black Lives Matter movements. Pioneer Spian became the first Oscar-nominated male Black Star in the 1958 “Defiant Ones” and six years later won the best actor Oscar for his performance in “The Lily of the Field”. Was the first person to do it. Poichie won a historic award and told a fascinating audience of mostly white contemporaries that it was a “long journey to this moment”, but 38 years later, Denzel Washington on “Training Day”. His achievements did not match until he took the lead role. .. “

Poichie, who died at his home in Los Angeles on Thursday night, gained mainstream popularity in a series of groundbreaking roles during the heightened racial tensions in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. He balanced success with a sense of duty to choose projects that tackle prejudices and stereotypes, such as the classic 1967 “Guess Who’s Coming Soon” and “in the heat of the night.”

Poichie was awarded the Honorary Oscar in 2002 for his “extraordinary performance” and its “dignity, style and intellect” at the silver screen. “I receive this award in the names of all African-American actors and actresses who have been privileged to stand in front of me during difficult times and see where I am going.” Poichie said. Poichie was also not afraid to stand up for the cause of equality, despite the difficulties that such a stance might have caused them, “a handful of American visionary choices” producers, I praised the director and studio boss.

“I always chase you, Sydney”

Coincidentally, Poichie won the 2002 Honorary Oscar the same night Washington won the Best Actor Award. This was also the first and only night when Halle Berry won the African-American Best Actress Award. In his acceptance speech, Washington sent a heartfelt compliment to Poichie, saying, “I will always follow in your footsteps.”

Washington said in a statement to AFP following the news of his death: He was a kind person and opened the door for all of us who had been closed for years. Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis shared a similar note of praise for life breaking the barriers of Poitier, his “dignity, normality, strength, excellence, and pure electricity … I.” Showed their importance as blacks !!! “


Born in Florida in the southern United States in 1927, when a tomato farmer’s father was selling produce, the young Sydney and his family returned to the Bahamas, where they grew up in poverty. A dual Bahamas and American, he dropped out of school at the age of 13 and returned to Miami to join his brother Cyril at the age of 15 after watching the movie for the first time as a young man on a Caribbean island. rice field.

It was there that an impressive young man experienced his first taste of racism, which left an indelible mark on him. Poichie soon moved to New York, where he worked as a dishwasher and bathboy, reportedly sleeping in a pay toilet at a bus station as he tried to drown out a poor presence in a harsh city.

During World War II, Poichie joined the US Army as a physiotherapist, and when he returned to New York in 1945, his mind set out to become an actor. Poichie lost the agility of the Caribbean and worked to adopt American accents. This earned him the job of being the first stage actor to sing star Harry Belafonte’s Understudy on “Days of Our Youth” in 1945, after which he made his debut in All Black Productions on Broadway. “Mysistrata.”

Race harmony

In 1950, a prosperous young actor starred in his first movie, No Way Out, followed immediately by masterpieces such as The Classroom of Terror and Edge of the City. From the 1957 “Something of Value,” which depicts the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya’s anti-colonial era, to the Chicago-based “The Great Night Search Line” (1961) and the Mississippi Murder Mystery, he The choice has changed more consistently to the theme of racial harmony. In the Heat of the Night ”(1967).

From the late 1970s to the 1980s, Poichie moved behind the camera, playing a traditional white role as a black actor, and then featuring Gene Wilder (“Star Crazy”) and Bill Cosby (“Ghost Dad”). I switched to a comedy. Poichie took a 10-year hiatus before returning to the police thriller Shoot to Kill in 1988, but rarely graced the big screen after that.

On television, he portrayed historical symbols such as South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela and Thurgood Marshall’s first black judge in the US Supreme Court. And in 1997, he was appointed to the ceremony as the Bahamas Ambassador to Japan. He was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009. Poichie has been married to his second wife, Joanna, since 1976 and has six children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. -AFP

https://www.kuwaittimes.com/sidney-poitier-trailblazing-black-film-star-and-activist/ Sidney Poitier: Pioneering black movie star and activist

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