feb-201.jpgOn a business trip to Miami on this day in 1927, two Bahamian tomato farmers welcomed their son into the world—the now famous Sidney Poitier. He left his home at the age of 15, served in the American military and later, in the American Negro Theater, worked as Harry Belafonte’s understudy. The actor’s feature film debut came in the 1950 film No Way Out. By 1958, Poitier became the first black thespian to receive an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Defiant Ones. He would make history once again in 1964 for being the first black actor to ever take home an acting trophy from the Academy. His turn as Walter Lee Younger in the Broadway debut and subsequent film version of “A Raisin in the Sun” garnered rave reviews and ushered along his notoriety. His list of accomplishments is formidable, including the 1969 formation of the First Artists production company with Paul Newman and Barbra Streisand, among others; in 1974 he became a Knight Commander of the British Empire.

Quotable: Sidney Poitier made headlines with the groundbreaking racial and political roles he took. In 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Poitier’s out-of-place Dr. John Wade Prentice famously shone light on the racial positioning of the period when he said, “You think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself as a man.”