by STAFF WRITER
January 8, 2022
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jan. 8, CMC – Jamaica’s Minister of Entertainment and Culture, Olivia Grange, has hailed the life of the late Sir Sidney Poitier saying that he was “Hollywood’s first Black star” who “created history while portraying on-screen Black people as talented, strong and articulate.”
The actor, director and civil rights activist died on Friday at age 94.
Recalling his ability to change the portrayal of black people on screen, the Culture Minister said Poitier “sought to counter the prevailing, negative views on persons of African descent” and that his “dignified roles helped audiences of the 1950s and 1960s envision Black people not just as servants but as doctors, teachers and detectives.”
“He made a conscious decision to reject roles that were not consistent with his values or that reflected badly upon his race,” her statement continued. “Becoming Hollywood’s first Black movie star and the first Black man to win the Best Actor Oscar award, we remember with fondness and respect films such as To Sir With Love and A Raisin in the Sun.”
Also pointing to Poitier’s “commercial success”, Grange said it must never be forgotten that Poitier was the first Black director whose film grossed more than $US100 million.
“Sidney Poitier provided for us a living example of Black excellence. He was truly a trailblazer and an inspiration for Black people the world over. Most deservedly, he was awarded the United States highest civilian honour – the Medal of Freedom by President Obama and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.”
“We in Jamaica express condolences to the loved ones of Sir Sidney Poitier and to the people of The Bahamas and the United States. We join in honouring the memory of this great man and I have conveyed this to the Honorary Consul for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in Jamaica, Alveta Knight,” her statement ended.