Sir Sidney Poitier: the unanswered questions
Bennicka Rolle 000-05-2377Lecturer: Dr. Ada McKenzieEng 300 – Interpretive Research Project
“Sidney Poitier, who is he?” “Where is he from?” “What has he contributed to our Bahama land to receive such an honor in having the Paradise Island Bridge renamed after him?” These are just a few of the questions asked by some disgruntled Bahamians who were against the renaming of the Paradise Island Bridge on November 2nd, 2012. Many Bahamians were baffled due to the decision and wondered why Sir Sidney was chosen, instead of someone who is also noted as a local Bahamian icon. It became evident when the decision was made that many Bahamians, of all age groups, are not aware of who Sidney Poitier is and his contributions to The Bahamas, despite the books and documentaries that are available to the public. This is problematic in that it caused many of us to disregard Mr. Poitier from having Bahamian blood and being a contributor, through what we heard off the streets and the mere fact that we are not knowledgeable about him. I would like to inform the public about Sidney Poitier and his contributions to The Bahamas that brought about the reasons why he has been given such an honor. Currently, there isn’t any educational material on Mr. Poitier within primary to senior school levels; this was noted after speaking with a few teachers in practice from a number of schools. The information that has been provided to the public is limited and does not include much of what he has contributed to The Bahamas; most of what has been said is by word of mouth. Mr. Poitier wrote his own story in two of his books “This Life” and “Life Beyond Measure”, within these books he told of how he was born in Miami on February 20th, 1927, during the time his Bahamian parents Evelyn and James Poitier were there to sell tomatoes which they grew on Cat Island. He wasn’t expected to survive after being born two months premature so he and his parents remained in Miami for three months. After which, they returned to The Bahamas although he gained U.S. citizenship automatically because he was born there. He grew up on Cat Island until about age ten where they came to Nassau when his family’s farm went out of business. At fifteen years of age he left The Bahamas to live with his brother and from there he went to New York at the age of seventeen and kept jobs as a dishwasher until he decided to join the Army. Finally he was successful in gaining an audition where he got a spot in the American Negro Theatre. At the age of forty he moved back to The Bahamas where he assisted Sir Lynden Pindling, his close friend, in campaigning during election by providing walkie-talkies. Mr. Poitier went on to explain how disappointed he was to find that The Bahamas had lost its cultural life, so after which he moved to Beverly Hills in 1974 (Poitier, 2000). Research Process
The Harry C. Moore library was first consulted, because they have some of Mr. Poitier’s material available, books such as “This Life” and “Life Beyond Measure” that were both read and analyzed. The public community was then asked questions about Mr. Poitier to see how knowledgeable they are about him and his contributions. Questions such as, “Do you know of Mr. Sidney Poitier?” “Are you aware of any contributions he has made to The Bahamas?” “Do you agree or disagree in the renaming of the Paradise Island bridge in his honor and why or why not?’ The responses that were given proved the fact that a problem exist with his history being known as a Bahamian icon. The Tribune was the next source that was sought out because they had recently been writing about Mr. Poitier and his honor, mentioning why he was being honored and whose decision it really was to do so. It was stated in the Tribune that “The renaming of the bridge and the concert in Sir Sidney’s honor was the initiative of Atlantis, not the Government’s. The Government...
Bibliography: Poitier, Sidney. The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography. USA Harper Collins 2000. Print. This book answered the questions as if Sidney Poitier was speaking himself. He gave an overview of his life, where he came from, who he is and so on and so forth. He speaks highly of his parents and growing up in Cat Island. He spoke of his trip back to the U.S. to live, where he went on to a journey fighting racial battles and overcoming their barriers. Poitier spoke of his success and it was very useful in my research.
Poitier, Sidney. This life. Alfred A. Knopf Inc. 1980. In this book Sidney Poitier tells of his childhood in the Bahamas, his introduction to New York, his two marriages and tumultuous eight-year relationship with Diahann Carroll, and his numerous films. Poitier spoke of his success and his return back to the land that brought him up but he was distraught with his return and left. This was a very insightful book that Mr. Poitier wrote and it was very useful in my research. It was used to help answer some blank questions as aforementioned. I found the book to be a bit hasty in his description of The Bahamas, and it came off as if it wasn’t good enough for him.
“Call for protest at independence celebrations.” The Tribune newspaper from the web, November 1, 2012. This article shares how Celi Moss, a former DNA candidate gathered some disgruntled Bahamians to protest at the honoring of Sir Sidney Poitier. They were not pleased because they felt as if the government was “foreignising” The Bahamas by doing so. This article highlighted how unaware Bahamians are of Sir Sidney’s contribution and to why he is truly being honored.
Wachell, Robbin “Bahamas Prime Minister’s remarks at Sir Sidney Poitier bridge naming ceremony” Bahamas weekly from the web, November 2, 2012 <http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/local/Photos_The_Sir_Sidney_Po24887.shtml>. This article states Rt. Hon. Perry Christie’s thoughts on the whole matter of Mr. Sidney’s honor and how he deserves it. This really portrayed why he was being honors and Mr. Christie mentioned a few of many contributions Sir Sidney gave that Bahamians are unaware of.
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