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Things We Saw Today: The World Pays Tribute to Sir Sidney Poitier

The screen legend, who was the first Black man to win an Oscar for best actor, has passed away at 94.

 

Sidney Poitier in 'To Sir, With Love'

Sir Sidney Poitier, the actor, director, activist, and ambassador, has passed away at 94 years old. Poitier was an integral performer who changed the way Black characters were portrayed in film and television.

Poitier came to prominence at a pivotal time in American history during the Civil Rights movement, where he delivered game-changing performances in films like To Sir, with Love; Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night. Those films (and many others) spoke to issues of racism and prejudice, and as Poitier’s star rose he used his influence to demand more nuanced and aspirational roles for Black actors.

In 1964, Poitier won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the film Lilies of the Field, becoming the first Black man and Bahamian actor to win the award. He also received a Grammy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and a British Academy Film Award. Poitier received many lifetime accolades, including the Academy Honorary Award, the AFI Life Achievement Award, and the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. He was a Kennedy Center honoree in 1995, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2009. He was also awarded an honorary knighthood as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.

Many actors, celebrities, and fans took to social media to celebrate the life of the iconic actor:

 

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A post shared by Tyler Perry (@tylerperry)

 

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A post shared by VIOLA DAVIS (@violadavis)

(via Variety, image: Columbia Pictures)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.