Today, the legend Sidney Poitier turns 92 and for all his hard work, fans have come together to wish him a happy birthday on social media.
A quick Black History lesson: Sidney Poitier was a Bahamian-American actor, film director, diplomat, and author who made history in the U.S. film industry, as the first Black man to win the Academy Award for “Best Actor.” He was also the first Black man to win “Best Actor In A Motion Picture” at the Golden Globes; he received these awards for his role in Lilies of the Field. Known for rejecting roles that fed into racial stereotypes, Poitier went on to star in several films that commented on race and race relations. He was named one of the greatest male stars of classic Hollywood cinema by the American Film Institute in 1999.
Poitier was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1974, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest civilian honor in the United states) by President Barack Obama in 2009, and in 2016 he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding life achievement in film. He also served as ambassador to Japan from April 1997 up until 2007. His list of accomplishments goes on.
When he went up against four white men for “Best Actor” at the Oscars back in ’64 and won, Poitier seemed ecstatic beyond words. He said it was “a long journey to this moment,” before going on to say he was indebted to many people, including the members of the Academy. Gracefully accepting the honor, he extended a “very special thank you” to those who’d helped him along his way. See the groundbreaking moment below.
We would like to join the nation in wishing Mr. Poitier a very happy birthday, plus more well wishes below.
“Happy 92nd birthday to the one and only barrier-breaking icon Sidney Poitier,” TIFF wrote on Twitter, alongside a clip from In The Heat of the Night.
Political analyst for ABC News Matthew Dowd shared some famous quotes of Poitier’s. He tweeted:
“Happy bday actor/activist Sidney Poitier, b.1927. ‘To simply wake up every morning a better person than when I went to bed.’ ‘Forgiveness works two ways, in most instances. People have to forgive themselves too. That should be a sacred process.'”
One fan will be showing the Sidney Poitier film In The Heat of the Night in class to point out how relevant the film still is.
“In honor of Sir Sidney Poitier’s 92nd birthday watch one of his films. I’ll be showing my film/history class IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and pointing out how relevant this film remains” @MiddParent tweeted.
The creators of the Tribeca Film Festival also showed Poitier some love…
“A person doesn’t have to change who he is to become better.” Happy 92nd birthday to the beautiful and barrier-breaking king Sidney Poitier!” @Tribeca tweeted.