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Sidney Poitier

January 14, 2022

Remembering Sidney Poitier

Ask students: Who is Sidney Poitier and what is his background? Why is Poitier considered and an important figure in the history of moviemaking?


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Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier has died at the age of 94. Poitier transformed how Black characters were portrayed on screen and became the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for best lead performance. Throughout his life, the star carved a path for generations of black actors to come. Geoff Bennett looks back at his life and legacy.

Two options for teaching about Poitier’s life and legacy: You may choose to complete the Five Facts and focus questions below or use this hyperdoc lesson by teacher Kate Stevens:

In this hyperdoc lesson, students will be guided through an article and be given space to record their reactions and observations. Students may also explore additional videos and resources available through the doc. You can make your own copy and edit the assignment as needed, or assign the lesson through Google Classroom and collect student work. If you haven’t seen a hyperdoc before, the goal is an interactive Google Doc where students can explore media, capture thinking and collaborate with others. Learn more here.

Five Facts

  • Who is Sidney Poitier and what is his background?
  • Where was Poitier born, and when did he come to the United States?
  • What are some of the qualities that Poitier is known for as an actor and leader?
  • Why is Poitier considered and an important figure in the history of moviemaking?
  • How did Poitier break barriers in Hollywood?

Focus Questions

What was most notable to you about Poitier’s legacy? What do you think he will be most remembered for doing?

Media literacy: What did you learn about American history through this memorialization of Sidney Poitier?

Additional Resources

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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