Former President Barack Obama expressed admiration Friday for the legendary actor Sidney Poitier, whose death at age 94 was reported earlier that day.
“Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together,” Obama said in a statement via Twitter. “He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans.”
In 2009, Obama presented Poitier with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At that ceremony, Poitier was praised as a performer who’d “left an indelible mark on American culture” and helped “advance the nation’s dialogue on race and respect.”
The Bahamian-American actor broke color barriers in the 1950s and 1960s with a wide range of roles that challenged the status quo of Hollywood. He became the first Black man to win an Oscar, taking home the honor for his leading role in the 1963 film “Lilies of the Field.”
The news of Poitier’s death was shared Friday by the minister of foreign affairs in the Bahamas, but further details were not immediately available.