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A Tribute to Sidney Poitier 2/20/27-1/6/22 with Trailers from His Movies

January 7, 2022

On August 12, 2009, President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Sidney Poitier.  Image Credit: Source: http://www.achievement.org/achiever/sidney-poitier/

BY RON WELLS: The first film I ever saw with Sidney Poitier was Lilies of the Field. I was mesmerized not just by the role he was playing, but by the dignity and kindness he displayed on the screen. Though one shouldn’t make judgements about actors by the roles they play in films, for me at least, it seemed an extension of the man himself.

 In 1959, the first ever Academy Award nomination for an African American went to Sydney Poitier for The Defiant Ones, . In 1963 he became the first black to win the Academy Award for Lilies of the Field.

Later I would see To Sir, with Love, and because I was a teacher, I thought: “That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.”



In the Heat of the Night showed a black man standing up to the racist establishment in a small Southern town and I wanted to cheer in the theater as he solved a crime that Rod Steiger’s sheriff could not seem to solve.



A Patch of Blue almost tore my heart out as Gordon takes the music box and goes back to his house rather than giving it to Selina.



Years later I knew he was going to be at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival. I had his memoir, The Measure of Man, with me in order to get it signed. I was shocked to find him sitting at a small table with no line of people waiting to meet him. This allowed me to not only get the book signed, but to talk to him for awhile.



He was as kind and intelligent as I had always pictured him to be. We talked for quite awhile until other people began to come up to his table and I knew it was time to leave. I thanked him for his powerful screen portrayals, for being the man he was, and for inspiring me in so many ways. He stood up, thanked me, and we shook hands. I walked away, happy to have found him as I had always hoped him to be: kind, caring, and dignified. There was also a quiet, powerful, peacefulness and strength about him that I remember to this day.

Sidney Poitier influenced my life in more ways than he will ever know. He was a great actor, but so much more.

A Poitier

In his own words:

  • I think the way I want to think. I live the way I want to live.
  • I am the me, I chose to be.
  • There is not racial or ethnic domination of hopelessness. It is everywhere
  • I’ve seen my father. He was a poor man, and I watched him do astonishing things.
  • So much of life, it seems to me, is determined by pure randomness.
  • I learned to hear silence.That’s the kind of life I lived: simple. I learned to see things in people around me, in my mom, dad, brothers and sisters.
  • I had chosen to use my work as a reflection of my values.
  • I had always been a learner because I knew nothing.
  • I was not the kind of principal player that was so in demand that 8 or 10 or 12 scripts came per month.
  • In America, it is difficult to be your own man.
  • My mother was the most amazing person, She taught me to be kind to other women. She believed in family. She was with my father from the first day they met. All that I am, she taught me.
  • Mine was an easy ride compared to Jackie Robinson’s.
  • I was the only Black person on the set. It was unusual for me to be in a circumstance in which every move I made was tantamount to representation of 18 million people.
  • I am not a hugely religious person, but I believe that there is a oneness with everything. And because there is a oneness, it is possible that my mother is the principal reason for my life.
  • A good deed here, a good deed there, a good thought here, a good comment there, all add up to my career in one way or another.
  • History passes the final judgement.
  • I never had an occasion to question color, therefore, I only saw myself for what I was…a human being.
  • But I always had the ability to say no. That’s how I called my own shots.
  • I wouldn’t change a single thing, because one change alters every moment that follows it.
  • We’re all imperfect, and life is simply a perpetual, unending struggle against those imperfections.
  • Living consciously involves being genuine; it involves listening and responding to others honestly and openly; it involves being in the moment.
  • Racism is very painful. That’s life. It never ends.
  • I find myself, at this time in my life, no less challenged, no less plagued, no less intrigued by what I still don’t know.
  • The journey has been incredible from its beginning.
  • If I am remembered for having done a few good things, and if my presence here has sparked some good energies, that’s plenty.

 




Some of the many films of Sidney Poitier:

  • Blackboard Jungle
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
  • To Sir, with Love
  • In the Heat of the Night
  • Lilies of the Field
  • A Raisin in the Sun
  • The Defiant Ones
  • A Patch of Blue
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs!
  • Sneakers
  • Buck and the Preacher
  • Porgy and Bess
  • Cry, The Beloved Country



————————-

To a man whose incredible journey sparked many good energies in this world: Rest in Peace, Sidney Poitier.

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