On this day in 1964, Sidney Poitier became the first Black man to win Best Actor

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FILE - Sidney Poitier poses with his honorary Oscar during the 74th annual Academy Awards on March 24, 2002, in Los Angeles. Among the entertainers who died in 2022 was groundbreaking actor Poitier, who played roles with such dignity that it helped change the way Black people were portrayed on screen. Poitier, who died in January, became the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the 1963 film “Lilies of the Field." (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File)
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On April 13, 1964, Sidney Poitier made history by becoming the first Black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. He was recognized for his outstanding performance in the film “Lilies of the Field.”

In the movie, Poitier played a traveling handyman who lives on the road and comes across a community of nuns who hire him to do small jobs and to build them a chapel.

Poitier’s groundbreaking achievement opened doors for other Black actors to win Oscars in leading roles, including Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker, and Will Smith.

In 2001, Halle Berry made history as the first and only Black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. That same night, Poitier received an Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime of work.

Poitier passed away at the age of 94 in January 2022.


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