CBCF Mourns the Passing of Actor, Activist, and Ambassador, Sidney Poitier

January 7, 2022                                                                                                                           

Tory Hairston

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) mourns the death of Sidney Poitier, actor, activist, and ambassador, who passed away yesterday at the age of 94. Poitier’s passing was announced by Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fred Mitchell. No other details were provided.  

Sidney L. Poitier was born on February 20, 1924, in Miami, Florida but raised in the Bahamas until he moved to back to Miami when he was 15. Poitier’s first major film role was in 1955 in Blackboard Jungle. Thereafter, his career quickly took off with films such as A Raisin in the Sun and The Defiant Ones.

Most notably, Portier made history when he won the Academy Award in the category for Best Actor for his performance in Lilies of the Field, making him the first Black male actor to win the award.

Throughout his history-making and prolific career, he earned numerous accolades and awards including, the Kennedy Center Honor, an Honorary Oscar, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, and multiple lifetime achievement awards.

As he did as an actor and director, Poitier also pushed to break boundaries as an activist. He used his platform and influence to change the landscape for Black actors by dismantling and refusing stereotypical roles of the times and intentionally selecting roles that explored racial tensions in the US. Poitier also served as the Bahamian Ambassador to Japan from 1997 through 2007. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Mr. Poitier with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  

“Yesterday, we lost a legend. Sidney Poitier paved the way for generations of Black thespians. While his loss is felt, we keep close the remarkable legacy that’s captured on the silver screen for us to treasure,” said Co-Interim President and CEO & Senior Vice President, Resource Development, Donna Fisher-Lewis. “CBCF joins others throughout the world in sharing our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Without any precedent or model, Sidney Poitier blazed an incredible trail and left an indelible legacy for generations of Black performers to come.

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About the CBCF

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF), established in 1976, is a non-partisan, nonprofit, public policy, research, and educational institute, committed to advancing the global Black community by developing leaders, informing policy, and educating the public.