The University of the West Indies (The UWI) joins the global community in mourning the passing of Hollywood’s revered star, Sir Sidney Poitier, who passed away on January 7, 2022.
The pioneer Bahamian American actor and film director, Sir Sidney Poitier, was the recipient of the University’s Legacy Award, bestowed in 2001 at the American Foundation for The University of the West Indies (AFUWI) annual gala. Sir Sidney was among a group of Caribbean luminaries who were saluted at the University’s foremost fundraising initiative.
The 2001 statement on his award read, “The University of the West Indies is honoured to salute the career and achievements of this cultural icon. His legendary performances and outspoken support of civil rights have left an indelible mark on the Caribbean and the world. As one of the most visible black role models, Poitier carried the hopes and inspiration of an entire people. His films never shied away from addressing sensitive issues of race.”
In 2017, while delivering the Boyer Family Lecture hosted by the SUNY Empire State College, current UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, recognised Sir Sidney among notable Americans with Caribbean heritage that young people should emulate.
Commenting on the passing of the icon and his achievement of major Hollywood stardom in successful mainstream films that depicted black men in a positive, non-stereotypical light, Vice-Chancellor Beckles said, “The world has lost a remarkable man, one that has not only left an enduring mark on society but will forever have a profound influence on generations to come”.
The UWI and its extended American Foundation community offer deepest condolences to the family of Sir Sidney.