A State-Recognized Service of Thanksgiving in honour of the late Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE, was held on Father’s Day as the country paid official homage to his contribution to the international film industry, civil rights movement, and nation building. It capped off a weekend of celebrating ‘Sir Sidney, With Love,’ with memorials mounted in Parliament and Rawson Squares depicting aspects of the life of the Bahamian-American actor, film director and diplomat; a Cultural Presentation on Saturday evening at Atlantis; and the Memorial Mass on Sunday, June 19, 2022 at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral on West Hill Street.
Leading the list of invited guests was His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith, followed by Acting Prime Minister the Hon. Chester Cooper, cabinet ministers, Leader of the Opposition, members of the Judiciary, parliamentarians, former prime ministers, the Bahamas Christian Council, and other high level government officials.
Also present were three of Sir Sidney’s daughters: Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, and other family members. The Most Rev. Patrick Pinder, Catholic Archbishop of Nassau in The Bahamas, delivered the Homily. He said Sir Sidney broke racial barriers, regarding all humans as created in the image of God, endowed for greatness. He won ‘coveted awards’ during his lifetime; and of significant importance he used his status to fight for racial justice, the archbishop said.
He further acknowledged that Sir Sidney blazed a path for others in The Bahamas to follow, and left a legacy which has touched every part of this country.
Following the Homily, the communion was administered, the Last Post and Reveille were sounded by a joint Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Force ensemble; the National Flag was presented by the Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service, to Sir Sidney’s eldest daughter, Beverly, followed by the playing of the National Anthem. Sir Sidney died on January 6, 2022, at his home in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 94. He was born on February 20, 1927, in Miami, Florida. He was the youngest of seven children born to Evelyn (nee Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, Bahamian farmers who owned a farm on Cat Island. In 1964, he was the first African American actor and first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for the movie, Lilies of the Field. He received two competitive Golden Globe Awards, a competitive British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award (BAFTA), and a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. He is considered one of the last major stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.
Among is other notable achievements, he received the Golden Globe Cecil B DeMille Award in 1982; the Kennedy Center Honour in 1995; in 2022, received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of his “remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being”; and in 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United states by President Barack Obama.
He was granted a Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974, and was The Bahamas’ Ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007. He was also Ambassador of The Bahamas to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
From: Bahamas Information Services
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