MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As the world mourns the death of legendary actor Sidney Poitier, the National Civil Rights Museum is remembering the Oscar-winning actor.
Poitier was awarded the National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Award in 2001, and he made the trip to Memphis and visited the museum during that time.
The museum leadership offered the following statement on Poitier and his achievements:
The National Civil Rights Museum joins the world in grieving the loss of a great icon and its 2001 Freedom Award honoree, Mr. Sidney Poitier.
Poitier was a trailblazing thespian and staunch civil rights activist that remained true to his principles. His art reflected his convictions. Because of that, the world reimagined Black culture during a transformative period that challenged racial prejudice and social norms.
On stage, screen, and in real life, Poitier reflected a myriad of stories that illustrated the multi-faceted aspects of the African Diasporic life. He had a way of portraying characters that transported “race films” and “Blaxploitation” genres beyond integration to classic stories of empowerment across generations.
An Academy Award winner, Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, and author, Poitier walked his talk, participating in the March on Washington and using his platform to fight against discrimination. He dedicated his life to promoting messages of deep passion, pride, respect, and the power of Black culture. His legacy is inscribed in the massive body of dramatic art that will forever demonstrate the importance for humankind to “look beyond the surface appearances.”
Our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and all the lives he impacted. Rest in heavenly peace, Mr. Poitier.