Actor, director and diplomat Sidney Portier passes away

“They call me Mister Tibbs “ – the protagonist asserts as he confronts a racist plantation owner in Mississippi and slaps him across the face. This is the unforgettable line spoken by a Black actor, Sidney Poitier playing Philadelphia police detective, Virgil Tibbs, investigating a murder in the Southern State in the iconic movie, In the Heat of the Night. The film is a searing exploration and repudiation of the endemic racism which has afflicted Southern US states for centuries- and, of course, has implications for all of us across the globe.

The great Sidney Poitier passed away last week. The movie roles he played were described as ground-breaking. Many, such as that in “Guess Who’s coming to Dinner“ dealing with interracial marriage smashed at least some racial stereotypes and perhaps helped to mitigate some unconscious racial biases.

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