​​Celebrating Sidney Poitier’s Movie Legacy — Berkeley Excessive Jacket


On January 6, 2022, Sidney Poitier handed away at 94 years outdated. He was an especially influential actor and pioneer for Black folks in Hollywood. Within the wake of his passing, we’re in a position to look at his lengthy lifetime of accomplishments and the trail he cast for generations of Black actors after him. 

Poitier acted in most of his movies all through the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, however continued his work into the 2000s. He was the primary Black man to win a Greatest Actor Academy Award for his efficiency within the 1963 movie Lilies of the Subject, which was an enormous feat on condition that his business was dominated by white males.

One of many causes Poitier was so outstanding was his refusal to behave in racist and stereotypical roles, which was the case for almost all of roles accessible to Black folks on the time. By refusing to play these roles, Poitier was in a position to as a substitute personify Black characters, together with a health care provider, a reverend, and different dignified and ethical elements. The films he starred in usually acknowledged the racism that his character would doubtless must face. 

Poitier is well-known for when he fought for a script change within the movie Within the Warmth of the Evening, during which he performed a murder detective. The script wished one of many white suspects to slap Poitier’s character within the face, so Poitier pushed for an alteration to the script in order that he would slap the person again. 

“I knew that [by not reacting] I’d have been insulting each Black individual on this planet,” Poitier stated in a 2013 CBS interview. This open act of defiance and pleasure for a Black character within the movie was transformative, and is usually used to anecdotally describe Poitier’s position as a Black trailblazer in Hollywood. 

The peak of his profession was in the course of the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, whereas the Civil Rights Motion was in full swing. One can think about what it will need to have been like for America to look at a Black man obtain an Academy Award on nationwide tv in 1964, only one 12 months after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his well-known “I Have a Dream” speech.

Regardless of Poitier’s accomplishments, we nonetheless are observing a deeply flawed Hollywood. After Poitier, solely a handful of different Black folks have received Academy Awards, they usually have been few and much between. To honor Poitier’s legacy, Hollywood must proceed to look at inequality throughout the alternatives it offers Black actors for recognition. Poitier’s accomplishments in Hollywood will hopefully proceed to encourage change for folks of shade.

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