National Urban League:
Few Artists Have Contributed More to the Civil Rights Movement than
(Friday, January 7, 2022) – National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial issued the following statement on the death of actor and activist Sidney Poitier:
Few artists have contributed more to the Civil Rights Movement than Sidney Poitier. As an actor, he was determined not to be defined by his race, but he pointedly refused roles that perpetuated negative stereotypes. His charm and grace, both onscreen and off, helped to open hearts and minds as the nation challenged segregation and discrimination.
As the first Black man to win the Academy Award for acting, he blazed a trail for an entire generation of artists and set a standard for excellence that elevated the medium as a whole.
His early support of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating helped make the March on Washington possible and allowed the Freedom Summer volunteers to continue their work after the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Though he and his close friend Harry Belafonte were chased and threatened by the Ku Klux Klan when they arrived in Mississippi to deliver the money they’d raised, the encounter only strengthened his commitment to racial justice.
Our hearts go out to his family, and we join his many friends and millions of fans around the world in grieving his passing.