Statement from the African American Film Critics Association on the Passing of Sidney Poitier


HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 24: Actor Sidney Poitier presenting ‘In the Heat of the Night’ at Target Presents AFI’s Night at the Movies at ArcLight Cinemas on April 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for AFI)

* Below is what Gil Robertson, President, African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) had to say on the passing of movie legend Sidney Poitier.

All my life, Sidney Poitier has been the very definition of what an actor is and should be. He’s just been a symbol of excellence, black excellence personified, who was just a majestic on-screen presence.

When you think about how groundbreaking his career has been, you can’t help but be impressed. In many ways, he was the ambassador of black masculinity, almost single-handedly debunking the worst stereotypes about us, ranging from his roles as an ordinary man to those where he played a doctor or a teacher.

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More than being the first black actor to win the Oscar for his tour de force in field lily in 1964, he represented beauty and dignity in everything he did. His acting filmography is just as amazing, as weak as his pioneering work as a director with Buck and the preacher and stir crazythe first $100 million film by a black director.

I am so grateful to have had so many opportunities to speak with him over the years. Meeting and interacting with one of your heroes is priceless. I’m so proud that the African American Film Critics Association was able to give him our Icon Award in 2017. It’s a great loss for the entertainment industry as a whole, for the AAFCA, Black Hollywood and, of course, his beloved family.

However, we must remember how lucky we were to witness his gift and be reassured that his work will survive us all.

Gil Robertson / AAFCA
Gil Robertson / AAFCA


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