Hollywood is in mourning. The legendary actor Sidney Poitier He passed away today at the age of 94, as confirmed by Bahamian Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell. The also Bahamian-American film director was born in 1927 in Florida. Being part of the film mecca at a time when racism and discrimination were at their peak. It was not an easy task, however he managed to make his way into the industry.
He was the first African-American man to receive an Oscar in 1964 for the film Lilies of the Valley. and also one of the first interpreters to kiss a white actress on the big screen, this happened in the movie Guess who’s coming tonight in 1967; although the kiss was not captured directly, but through the rear-view mirror of a taxi.
In an interview in 1967, Poitier revealed that the characters he characterized were not linked to the mentality of the ‘white’ public, and he sought to change the perception that existed towards this part of the population. “The type of black that appeared on the screen was always negative, buffoons, clowns, butlers, true outcasts. This was the context when I arrived 20 years ago and chose not to be part of the stereotypes... I want when people leave the cinema to feel that the lives of human beings are important. This is my only philosophy about the films I make, ”he explained.
During the 1950s, the actor Sidney Poitier was already a sensation in the cinematographic world and, at the same time, an inspiration for the Afro-American population that sought to free themselves from the stigmas, stereotypes and constant discrimination of those who were victims just because of have a different skin color. And one of the people whose life was changed was the billionaire journalist and TV host, Oprah Winfrey when she was just 10 years old.
“In 1964 I was a little girl sitting on the floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for Best Actor (…). The most elegant man I have ever remembered took the stage. His tie was white, his skin was black and they were celebrating. I have never seen a black man being celebrated like this, ”said the journalist at the 2018 Golden Globes.
The actor Sidney Poitier He received the Honorary Oscar in 2002 and in 2009 former President Barack Obama awarded him the highest civil decoration: the Medal of Freedom. “It has marked milestones of artistic excellence and progress in the United States“ expressed the former president.
This award was also presented to 15 other change agents, some of them Stephen Hawking; Mary Robinson, Nobel Peace Prize; the politician and activist Harvey Milk, among others.