Sidney Poitier (February 20, 1927 – January 6, 2022) was a Bahamian-American actor, film director and ambassador. In 1964, he was the first black person and first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for Lillies of the Field.
Mr.Poitier also received acclaim for Porgy and Bess (1959), A Raisin in the Sun (1961), and A Patch of Blue (1965). He continued to break ground in three successful 1967 films which dealt with issues of race and race relations: To Sir, with Love; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night. Beginning in the 1970s, Poitier also directed various comedy films, including Stir Crazy (1980), starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, among other films. After nearly a decade away from acting, he returned to television and film starring in Shoot to Kill (1988) and Sneakers (1992).
Poitier was granted a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974. In 1995, he received the Kennedy Center Honor. From 1997 to 2007, he was the Bahamian Ambassador to Japan.[ In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States by President Barack Obama. In 2002, he was given an Honorary Academy Award, in recognition of his "remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being."
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. stated, '“A victim of stereotypes, Sidney Poitier was a profound, serious actor who took us up in the front seats in his acting. When Black men were suppressed and when we were overwhelmed by images that demeaned us, Sidney Poitier was the man for the times, uplifting and enlightening us.
“When he said, ‘They call me Mr. Tibbs,’ it sent a message of consciousness and hope around the world. He used his celebrity as a weapon to open closed doors and to raise standards for all actors. He illuminated light in the darkness.
“A supporter of Dr. King, I have known Sidney for over 50 years. I miss him so much already. He stood for social justice, and he was the first black man to win the Best Actor Oscar.
“Sidney Poitier was there when Dr. King was alive, and when he was killed. He was a social justice fighter. He will be sorely missed.”
A successful businessman and freedom fighter, in 1966 St Clair Booker joined SCLC Operation Breadbasket (now Rainbow PUSH Coaltion) and became a leader in the movement to boycott companies that discriminated against blacks. His father/son relationship with Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. lasted for more than five decades.
A "Strong Disciplinarian" Who Served As A Father-Figure To Many
St. Clair Booker served as Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.'s Head of Security for decades and then passed the torch to Rev. Derrick Anderson, whom he trained in all the skills of security and travel logistics. St. Clair joined Fellowship Baptist Church in 1973, and in later years he joined the Centennial MBC under the leadership of Pastor J. Derrick Anderson.
"He loved introducing me as his Pastor, the young man he once mentored," Rev. Anderson recalled. Photo by John L. Alexander
St. Clair Booker and Rev. Jesse Jackson's Father/Son relationship extended to the Jackson family. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Jonathan Jackson fondly recalled the strong discipline they received from "Uncle Saint." Talk show host Santita Jackson, eldest daughter of Rev. Jackson and producer of Rev. Jackson's radio show "Keep Hope Alive" sang a soulful Gospel tribute with a powerful voice that brought many to tears. Photo by John L. Alexander
St. Clair and Rev. Jackson traveled the world together for over 20 years, visiting numerous countries and meeting with several dignitaries. Rev. Jackson recalled how in the early days of Operation Breadbasket, St. Clair enthusiastically led many successful protest marches. He was very instrumental in many firsts, such as the Boycotting of Dean Milk and A&P, and bringing the first Black Easter, the first Black Christmas and the first Black Expo to Chicago. Photo by John L. Alexander
Called a "Firebrand," by many, Karen Lewis led the Chicago Teachers Union in a seven-day strike in 2012 and will forever be remembered as the CTU President whose outspoken leadership style and successful organization of mass protest demonstrations gave her the political muscle to consider a run for Mayor of Chicago.
In a career that spanned more than seven decades, Cicely Tyson became known for her portrayal of strong African American women. A pioneering actress who gained an Oscar nomination for her role as a sharecropper's wife in the movie "Sounder", she continued to touch audience's hearts over the years.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., flanked by his son Jonathan Jackson, remembers the struggle and triumph of electing Chicago's first Black Mayor, Harold Washington. Photo by John L. Alexander