Where there is greatness, it shows itself. (Zambia)
1924 - Sidney Poitier was born.
When I was a child, the few Black faces I saw in the movies were maids or characters that seemed degraded and degrading. Worse still, sometimes the Black faces were painted on whites in what were then called “minstrel shows”. Sidney Poitier was significant for me in bringing and end to the caricatures of Black people as silly and mindless if they were not singing or dancing.
Sidney Poiter was born in the US and grew up with his family in the Bahamas. He showed signs of being a wayward youth, and his parents sent him off to stay when his brother in Miami when he was 15 years old. Two years later, he moved to New York and had a string of menial jobs. After a stint as a dishwasher, he had an audition that landed him a role with American Negro Theatre.
Audiences didn’t like him much because he was tone deaf, could not sing or dance, and had a distinctive Bahamian accent. He therefore left the theatre for six months to improve his acting skills and shed his accent. When he returned to the theatre, he was given a leading role and had excellent reviews.
His first big film role was in “Blackboard Jungle”, and he became the first Black actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. He was also the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor (Lilies of the Field in 1963). He acted in theatre and film versions of “A Raisin in the Sun”, and among his most successful films were “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “To Sir With Love”. He made his debut as director with “Buck and the Preacher” starring Poitier and Harry Belafonte.
To see Sidney Poitier accepting his honorary Oscar award, please click here
Poitier is currently Bahamian ambassador to Japan and the UNESCO as well. In addition, he received the Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2009.
1895- Fredrick Douglass died.
1900 - J.F. Bickering patented his airship invention.
1937 - Nancy Wilson, singer, was born.
1971: Idi Amin Dada became president and ruler of Uganda.
1988: Best selling singer Rihanna born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Saint Michael, Barbados.
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