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Sidney Poitier, Oscar Winning Actor and Black Icon, Dies at 94

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Actor and activist Sidney Poitier has died at the age of 94.

The office of the Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs has confirmed Sidney’s death; however, the circumstances surrounding his passing are not yet known. Clint Watson, press secretary for the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, confirmed to CNN that Poitier died Thursday evening.

His family released a statement to HipHollywood that read:

There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now. We are so grateful he was able to spend his last day surrounded by his family and friends. To us Sidney Poitier was not only a brilliant actor, activist, and a man of incredible grace and moral fortitude, he was also a devoted and loving husband, a supportive and adoring father, and a man who always put family first. He is our guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile was healing, his hugs the warmest refuge, and his laughter was infectious. We could always turn to him for wisdom and solace and his absence feels like a giant hole in our family and our hearts.

Although he is no longer here with us in this realm, his beautiful soul will continue to guide and inspire us. He will live on in us, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren—in every belly laugh, every curious inquiry, every act of compassion and kindness. His legacy will live on in the world, continuing to inspire not only with his incredible body of work, but even more so with his humanity.

We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to every single one of you for the outpouring of love from around the world. So many have been touched by our dad’s extraordinary life, his unwavering sense of decency and respect for his fellow man. His faith in humanity never faltered, so know that for all the love you’ve shown him, he loved you back.

To say he was a legend is an understatement.

Poitier broke color barriers in Hollywood and starred in some of the most iconic movies ever made. He was the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his starring role in “Lilies of the Field” in 1963. His other legendary roles include  Mark Thackeray in “To Sir With Love,” and Detective Virgil Tibbs in “In the Heat of the Night” in 1967 and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” also released in 1967.

He also starred in and directed the film trilogy Uptown Saturday Night (1974), Let’s Do It Again (1975) and A Piece of the Action (1977) opposite Bill Cosby.

Poitier was also a tireless civil rights activist. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Obama for his work.

Poitier, who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and the Bahamas, served from 1997-2007 as Bahamian Ambassador to Japan.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Joanna and 6 daughters.

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