Name: Sidney Poitier
Basics: A native of Miami, Poitier moved to New York after a short stint in the Army to pursue acting. Upon arriving in New York he made a deal with the American Negro Theatre to get acting lessons in exchange for being a janitor there. For years he worked as a stage actor and made his Hollywood debut in 1950. He scored his first Academy Award nomination in 1958, but he didn’t win until 1963 for Lilies in the Field. This made him the first African-American man to win an Oscar. In 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Why I Chose Him: He is one of the greatest actors to ever grace the screen and he set a milestone for many after him to follow. The sad part in this is that it took many decades for another African-American man to win in the category he won. His story is a reminder of both perseverance and also a reminder to us to acknowledge one another’s greatness. Waiting on the mainstream to hand us scraps or provide us with tokens will never be enough.