On April 13th, 1964, Sidney Poitier won an Oscar for best male actor for his role in the movie Lilies of the Field. He helped bring down a major race barrier in acting and became the first black male to earn this award. His genius on the big screen brought sensitivity to the plight of many Blacks around the world who were second class citizens in their own homeland and faced many injustices that were enshrined in their constitution.
He went on to lead a stellar acting career and his works throughout the world is legendary. He is a philanthropist, a movie director, a former Bahamian diplomat and not only is he a Bahamian citizen, but indeed he is a citizen of the world.
He was born in Miami, Florida to Bahamian parents, but his childhood was spent on Cat Island and Nassau. For those Bahamians who might be ignorant to the fact, Sir Sidney Poitier is a Bahamian and has always spoken proudly of his heritage.
The recent controversy surrounding the renaming of the Paradise Island Bridge in Sir Sidney’s name in my view is baseless, without merit and to some degree unpatriotic. Here is a Bahamian whose prowess directly contributed to the liberties of blacks in the Bahamas and all over the world. Here is a man who is not only an ambassador for the Bahamas, but also an ambassador for the world.
Bahamians everywhere should be praising the decision by Atlantis and the government to honor Sir Sidney in this way. Sure there are other Bahamians who may be equally deserving and also need recognition; there always will be. Bahamians trying to castigate this son of the soil and iconic figure in a time when we rarely honor our own to me is unbelievable and unthinkable.
The recognition that the country has received and will receive through this giant of a man is incomparable. Maybe adding core programs in our educational system that teaches our children their Bahamian history can avoid controversies of this nature in the future.
Sir Sidney is a grand citizen of the world. He is a lily in our Bahama land and is downright deserving of all the accolades that he receives from the Bahamian people, the Bahamian government, Atlantis and any other people who recognize his iconic value and legendary contributions in our society and indeed the world.