Sidney Poitier Dead at 94: First Black Best Actor Oscar Winner and Civil Rights Advocate

Lilies of the Field actor Sidney Poitier, the first black man to win a Best Actor Oscar, has passed away at 94.

The Acadamy Award winner’s death was confirmed by Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell.

Speaking about Poitier’s death, Mitchell said, “We’ve lost a great a Bahamian and I’ve lost a personal friend.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said he was “conflicted with great sadness and a sense of celebration when I learned of the passing of Sir Sidney Poitier.

“Sadness that he would no longer be here to tell him how much he means to us, but celebration that he did so much to show the world that those from the humblest beginnings can change the world and that we gave him his flowers while he was with us,” Cooper said.

The Bahamian-American star was granted US citizenship after being unexpectedly born in Miami while his parents were visiting.

He grew up in the Bahamas but moved to the US when he was 15 and got his start in Hollywood during the 1950s.

Race and social justice would become central themes in much of his work throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Among Poitier’s films included roles in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and Lilies of the Field,

The Miami-born star earned his first Academy Award nomination in 1959 for his work in The Defiant Ones.

The nomination was significant to America as he was the first African-American nominated for Best Actor.

However, it was his role in Lilies of the Field that earned him his first Oscar for Best Actor, becoming the first African American ever to win an Academy Awards.

His career continued to climb, starring in the ’67 romantic comedy Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, They Call Me Mister Tibbs, and the ’74 comedy crime film Uptown Saturday Night alongside Bill Cosby.

Poitier married his wife, Joanna Shimkus, in 1976, with whom he has two children, Anika and Sydney Tamiia.

Source: the Sun