To Sir With Love!!!To Sir With Love!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today’s mental workout for Superhero Tuesdays salutes one of the greatest inspirational figures ever. Before the great Denzel, and Fabulous Will Smith, there was the Iconic Sydney Poitier. A man who broke the color barrier to be recognized as the very best in his craft on merit. Sydney Poitier is more than a great award-winning actor, he is also a writer, diplomat and recording artist. To say Sydney began from humble beginnings probably doesn’t tell the full story, he was born premature not expected to survive, then grew up in dirt poverty as the son of a farmer in the Bahamas. He had little formal education, only an imagination of what he could make out of his life. He didn’t just dream about it, Sydney dared to take action. Against all odds, still only 17 years old, he left for New York. He slept in a toilet of a bus station and worked as a dishwasher. He was self-taught out of sheer necessity and desperation. Sydney persevered until he successfully landed a gig with the American Negro Theatre. All great actors know that the real hard work begins when you get your opportunity, Sydney had to quickly learn the skill of acting and work on refining his Bahamian accent for more mainstream appeal.

Sydney Poitier’s rise to prominence in the 50s reflects a country in transition. Poitier symbolized the evolving era of integration. It’s particularly fascinating how his movie roles portrayed his real life demeanor, he was intelligent and respectful. His characters were also likely to be moderate and were not angry anti-establishment. He truly carried widespread appeal, for white audiences, Sydney wasn’t a threat to the system. For black audiences, he was a paragon of virtue, Sydney represented what was possible for someone who devoted themselves to their trade. Sydney did not bring the typical black stereotype of the time, there’s was no over-sexualized depiction or nuances of ghetto cultural dialect and mannerisms. Sydney didn’t bring an Uncle Tom flavor either, he was his own man and personified dignity, sensitivity and courage on the screen. Sydney is best known for his roles in: The Defiant Ones, A raisin in the Sun, Lilies of the Field, In the Heat of the Night, To sir with Love and of course "Guess who’s coming to Dinner." Sydney also enjoyed success as a director with "Stir Crazy" and the "Uptown Saturday Night" trilogy with Bill Cosby. Sydney is also the Bahamian ambassador to Japan and has been knighted by the crown, like the very humble man he is, doesn’t like to go with the “sir” title. Sydney is an inspiration to everyone around the world, regardless of whatever circumstances or challenges, one can use the power of imagination to dream then take action. Sydney could have blamed a thousand excuses why the odds were heavily stacked against him, but he took control of his own destiny and made things happen. Best of all, he took full advantage of the opportunity when presented, it will eternally be “To sir with Love” from all of us.