Trailblazing film star Sidney Poitier dies at 94

i24NEWS

3 min read
Then-US president Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Sidney Poitier in 2009 at the White House in Washington, DC.
Jewel Samad/AFPThen-US president Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Sidney Poitier in 2009 at the White House in Washington, DC.

Poitier broke through racial barriers as the first Black winner of the best actor Oscar

Sidney Poitier, who broke through racial barriers as the first black winner of the best actor Oscar and inspired a generation during the civil rights movement, died at the age of 94, an official from the Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.

Poitier, who held dual US and Bahamian nationality, became the first black star nominated for an Academy Award with 1958's "The Defiant Ones" and, six years later, was the first to win the best actor Oscar for his performance in "Lilies of the Field." 

Messages honoring and mourning Poitier flooded social media, with Whoopi Goldberg writing on Twitter: “He showed us how to reach for the stars.”

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Star Trek actor George Takei paid tribute to "a trailblazer who will be mourned by so many for whom he opened the very doors of Hollywood."

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Poitier’s rise reflected profound changes in the country's racial attitudes in the 1950s and 1960s during the civil rights era. As segregation laws were challenged and repealed, Poitier was the performer to whom a cautious industry turned for stories of progress.

Poitier was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2002 for his "extraordinary performances" and his "dignity, style and intelligence."

He was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the country's highest civilian honor -- by Barack Obama in 2009.