By now, you have heard of and been saddened by the transitioning of legendary Black actor and director Sidney Sidney Poitier. It’s always heartbreaking when an icon passes away, but Poitier lived a long 94-year life and during that time he enjoyed an illustrious career chock-full of classic films and brilliant performances.

So as we mourn his death, let’s not forget to celebrate his legacy. And what better way to do that than to take a look back at some of his best movies? And what better movie to start with than Poitier’s 1974 Black star-studded hit Uptown Saturday Night?

 

Besides Poitier himself, this film about the frantic and hilarious search for a stolen wallet and, more importantly, a lost winning lottery ticket also starred Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor, and more and was followed by sequels Let’s Do It Again and A Piece of the Action.

Next up, let’s take it back all the way to 1961 when director Daniel Petrie gifted the world with the screenplay version of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.

Now, when I was in high school, my class was assigned to watch this movie, read the original play, study the movie and play and answer test questions about the movie and play. I hated it. But I eventually developed a profound appreciation for the tale of Walter Lee Younger, his family, and his big plans for success in an America that didn’t want Black people to succeed.

Do y’all remember when a white man thought he was finna slap Sidney in the 1967 classic In The Heat of the Night? yeah, well, we all saw how that worked out.

 

Before movies like Lean On Me, The George McKenna Story, 187, Coach Carter and Remember the Titans, Poitier was playing a Black no-nonsense educator who inspired and whipped into shape undisciplined students in the 1967 film To Sir, with Love.

And to bring it all home, let’s go with another classic, also released in 1967 (yo, Poitier was having a damn good year in 1967), Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which covered American racism and interracial love at a time when the nation was still racist as hell and opposed to miscegenation. (It’s still racist as hell over here, but interracial couples get more of a pass than they used to these days.)

 

Listen, good people, we could go on all day listing Poitier’s great films. From A Patch of Blue to Porgy and Bess to Paris Blues to Buck and the Preacher to Shoot to Kill, there is so much in the award-winning acting genius’ body of work to highlight. You would be hard-pressed to find a Black male actor who doesn’t list him among their biggest influences.

Rest well, Sidney Poitier—your legacy will live forever. 

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