Home > Uncategorized > February 21 – Sidney Poitier

February 21 – Sidney Poitier

Last night, Yujin and I watched The Karate Kid on Netflix. Not the original one with Ralph Macchio-san and Mr. Miyagi, but the new one with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. We were both fairly impressed with little Jaden’s acting ability, and of course started comparing him with his famous actor father, Will Smith. And as we started to run through all the movies we’ve seen the elder Smith in, we began to realize that he’s actually played a wide variety of roles, and done all of them pretty well. Well enough, in fact, to be nominated twice for an Academy Award. But he’s never won one.

This Sunday, many will gather around their televisions to watch the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Will Smith wasn’t nominated for anything, so he’s not a contender. But can you name the first African American to win the Oscar for Best Actor?…

Born prematurely and weighing only three pounds, Sidney Poitier’s chance for survival looked bleak. His father, certain that his son would not survive, obtained a shoebox in which he planned to bury him in. As fate would have it, Poitier survived. As an adult, he went on to become a leading actor who graced the screen with the portrayal of powerful black characters.

Sidney Poitier was born in Miami, Florida, but grew up in Cat Island, Bahamas where his father worked as a farmer. At the age of sixteen, he moved to New York. While looking for a job in the newspaper, Poitier came across an employment advertisement for an actor. While he tried out for the part and did not get the role, it was the start of his pursuit of acting.

Poitier enrolled at the American Negro Theater in New York. He began acting in plays, and finally received a movie part in 1950 in the film No Way Out. Poitier received supporting roles in Blackboard Jungle (1955) and The Defiant Ones (1958). For the latter, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. His second nomination came for his role in the 1963 film, Lilies of the Field. It was for this role that Poitier became the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.

As far as Poitier films go, two other personal favorites: To Sir, with Love and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Birthday to Nina Simone and Barbara Jordan!


“We suffer pain, we hang tight to hope, we nurture expectations, we are plagued occasionally by fears, we are haunted by defeats and unrealized hopes . . . The hopelessness of which I speak is not limited. It’s in everything. There is not racial or ethnic domination of hopelessness. It’s everywhere.” – Sidney Poitier

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