Black Hollywood, the Obamas, react to death of Sidney Poitier

Whoopi Goldberg, Viola Davis and more took to social media to share their thoughts on the loss of the acting icon

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A true legend of the screen, Sidney Poitier, has passed away, and Black Hollywood is pouring out touching tributes and statements about the actor, activist and pop culture icon.

Actor Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

As theGrio reported today, Academy Award-winning actor and activist Sidney Poitier has died at 94-years-old. His boundary-pushing career saw him as the first Black man to ever win the Academy Award for Best Actor back in 1964. He also gave acclaimed performances in classic films such as To Sir, With Love and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

He was known for choosing roles that had not yet been seen for Black men in film, including romantic leads, and for gravitating towards films that spoke to race in America. He also pushed for equality behind the camera as well, and was known for his activism just as much as his acting career.

Sidney Poitier has his make-up adjusted on the set of ‘To Sir, With Love’, directed by James Clavell, June 16, 1966. (Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Speaking of Poitier, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared in 1967, “He is a man of great depth, a man of great social concern, a man who is dedicated to human rights and freedom.”

Naturally, many people have shared various tributes to the man who truly broke new ground for Black actors in the industry.

Barack Obama, who gave Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, issued a statement in tribute to the icon.

“Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans,” he said.

Whoopi Goldberg, who made history herself as the second Black woman to win Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars, took to Twitter with a tribute to the actor.

Referencing the song from To Sir, With Love, she wrote to her followers, “If you wanted the sky i would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high…To Sir…with Love.” She added, “He showed us how to reach for the stars…My condolences to his family and to all of us as well.”

Six-time Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald wrote on Twitter, “You paved the way for so many of us. Rest in Power Dear Sir.”

Colman Domingo also shared a tribute, writing, “Until I can properly eulogize him later. Heart broken. I am because of him. He blazed a tremendous path for thespians such as me. I am forever grateful. Standing O for this giant.”

Actor Jeffrey Wright took to Twitter as well, writing to his followers, “Sidney Poitier. What a landmark actor. One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love.”

Others stars went to Instagram to share their thoughts on this great loss.

Academy Award, Emmy, and two-time Tony Award winner, Viola Davis, wrote, “This is a big one. No words can describe how your work radically shifted my life. The dignity, normalcy, strength, excellence and sheer electricity you brought to your roles showed us that we, as Black folks, mattered!!!”

She added, “Rest well Mr. Poitier. Thank you! Thank you for leaving a legacy. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

In a touching tribute, Oprah Winfrey shared a photo of an interview she did with Potiter, which featured the two embracing.

She wrote, “For me, the greatest of the ‘Great Trees’ has fallen: Sidney Poitier. My honor to have loved him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher. The utmost, highest regard and praise for his most magnificent, gracious, eloquent life.” She concluded,  “I treasured him. I adored him. He had an enormous soul I will forever cherish. Blessings to Joanna and his world of beautiful daughters.”

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