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Sidney Poitier: Black American Actor

Sidney Poitier was the first black man to win an academy award for best actor. Throughout his film career he has taken on roles that highlight the situation of the black man in a white world. Poitier's interest in the plight of the black people goes far beyond acting. He is a writer and director as well as a humanitarian and a diplomat.

His first great acting success was in the film Cry The Beloved Country, about Apartheid in South Africa. He later went on to play in other films about Black Americans. The film "In the Heat of the Night" was a classic movie about a black detective from the North. He was sent to solve a murder in a Southern town at a time when blacks were still addressed as "boy" in the South, and segregated. His performance made a lot of people sympathize with the plight of black people in the South. Until then, many people had considered that they were treated equally, or at least fairly. Another controversial role he played was in "Guess Who is Coming To Dinner". That was a film about interracial marriage. Sidney Poitier was going to marry a white girl, and he went to dinner at her parent's house for the first time, to meet them. Her parents were absolutely horrified at the thought of their daughter marrying a black man. It was the first time that an interracial marriage had been the subject of a Hollywood film, and the film had a happy ending.

All of these things may seem very ordinary today, but in those days black people were still shunned and considered inferior. Sidney Poitier played a big part in changing those views. He was not afraid to play in roles that would cause controversy, or even put him in danger from extreme racists. Nearly fifty years after his first success with Cry My Beloved Country, Sidney Poitier went to an apartheid free South Africa, to star in a film as Nelson Mandela. The world is slowly changing and people are beginning to realize that color, nationality and religion have nothing to do with whether a person is good or bad.

To learn more about Sidney Poitier: his life, his ideals and his films, visit this link.

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