Actor. Author. Activist.
Sidney Poitier’s distinguished voice has led a multitude of generations toward justice and equality. With his powerful sense of eloquence and command of diction, the To Sir, with Love actor is the definition of a force to be reckoned with.
As an undeniable catalysis for change and progress, EBONY has had the privilege of having him grace the covers of our historic brand over the decades. As we reflect upon his rich legacy that impacted our community for the better, here are a few of our favorite Sydney Poitier covers.
In 1964, Poitier won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the film Lilies of the Field. With this award, he broke the color barrier to become the first Black man to win the prestigious award. However, staying true to his convictions, he vocalized his dissent at the Academy for tokenizing his presence in Hollywood. This act would be one of many instances that highlighted his commitment to trust and equity.
Poitier has shared the screen with his share of dynamic leading ladies. While filming Paris Blues, the dynamic actress Diahann Carroll and Poitier fell deep in love. This Black Hollywood duo went from costars to lovers, leading to a romantic affair that lasted for almost a decade.
While achieving massive commercial notoriety, the actor consciously set out to define and redefine his success on his own terms—fighting against the constraints that white America and Hollywood sought to place upon him. He rose above it all in his distinguished manner and continued to cement his name in history.
EBONY’s November 1971, cover is adorned with a casual portrait of the actor at his abode and gave a peek inside his stellar world. Through his life, he paved the way for what limitless creative expression looked like—whether fighting for social justice or delivering a powerful performance on screen. Born in Miami to Bahamian parents while they were vacationing in the States and raised in his folks’ homeland, his life and career have continued to serve as a blueprint for achieving the “American dream” by one’s own means.
Though he jumpstarted his illustrious career in the early 1940s, Poitier was still at the top of his game in the late 1970s. After becoming a highly regarded actor of the Golden Age, he continued to attain cinematic success for decades to come.
Sidney Poitier is pictured here as EBONY’s May 1988 cover star. Through his activism, he influenced global conversations on equity, race and liberation. His legacy will no doubt continue to impact entertainers and artists alike for generations.
Sidney Poitier was the definition of a leading man. He exuded elegance, style and class whether he was in front of the camera or behind it. Poitier, pictured here with Hilda Simms for JET Magazine’s November 24, 1955 issue.
There’s nothing like a friend to see you through all of life’s ups and downs and Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte were truly the best of companions. A friendship that spanned eight decades, the two were dedicated to social justice and executing captivating displays of artistry through their performances.
Black Americans being placed in opportunities that would advance them in a country meant for them to fail was of utmost importance to Mr. Poitier. From standing in solidarity with the civil rights movement to being intentional with the Black creatives around him on set, he practiced what he preached in all aspects of his life and career.
After taking time away from the big screen, Poitier made a reappearance in the film Shoot to Kill. Throughout his career, his artistry was recognized as a director as well, working on films such as Stir Crazy and Uptown Saturday Night. The last film he starred in was the action film The Jackal in 1997 alongside Bruce Willis and Richard Gere.