Sir Sidney Poitier – ‘Breaking New Ground’

Go Lean Commentary

CU Blog - Downtime with Sir Sidney Poitier - Photo 1Movies are an amazing business model. People give money to spend a couple of hours watching someone else’s creation and then leave the theater with nothing to show for the investment; except perhaps a different perspective. That is all!

But no one wants to live in a world without this art-form, without movies. Those few hours can entertain, engage and transform; sometimes even “break new ground” and change the world. So movies and movie stars can be extremely influential in modern society. This is the power of the arts, and this art-form in particular.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean stresses the arts as equally as it does the sciences, for empowering and transforming Caribbean society. While the Caribbean may not have any Nobel Prize winning scientist, we do have an Academy Award winning artist/actor, Sidney Poitier from the Bahamas. He has been able to capitalize on the influence of this art-form for over 65 years and pursued the Greater Good. So his accomplishments transcend the movie screen and impacts real-life.

CU Blog - Downtime with Sir Sidney Poitier - Photo 3For this accomplishment, he has been honored and knighted by British Monarch Queen Elizabeth II as a “Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)”. We thusly refer to him now as Sir Sidney Poitier.

He has also received a similar accolade from the US President, the highest civilian honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom*.

He has received many more honors and awards; see Appendix A for a sample list of Top Honors.

In focus for this commentary is his 1964 Oscar win for the 1963 movie Lilies of the Field. This was a big deal for Sir Sidney and the entire African Diaspora – people of color. Or as the BBC reported then: “he broke new ground”.

No new ground is being broken in Hollywood this year. The biggest stunner of the 2015 Academy Award nominations for films released in 2014 was that not a single actor of color or female director was included, sparking immediate criticism about Hollywood’s failure to include minorities in its most elite ranks. While this is a valid criticism, Hollywood may actually mirror society in general, where minority participation may be lacking in so many attendant functions – senior positions – of this business eco-system.

CU Blog - Downtime with Sir Sidney Poitier - Photo 2

(Click on the Photo to Enlarge)

While there may be some catch-up that this industry must still make, there are times when the movie-business will “boldly go where no one has gone before”. The Sir Sidney 1964 break-through was one such moment.

With a date-of-birth of February 20, 1927 (age 88 on his next birthday), what does this screen legend do on his downtime? In addition to serving as patriarch of his family of 6 daughters and 6 granddaughters, he summons world leaders to him for consultation. (Sir Sidney serves as the Bahamas non-residential Ambassador to Japan). See this VIDEO here of his entertaining the Prime Minister of the Bahamas in a recent visit.

VIDEO – Downtime with Sir Sidney Poitier –

Published on Jan 21, 2015 – In a special interview with ZNS News, legendary actor Sir Sidney Poitier challenged Bahamian political leaders to take the country to the next level.

The publishers of the book Go Lean…Caribbean recognizes the life contributions of Sir Sidney as an role model for excellence in the arts and also as an advocate of civil rights and social justice. He definitely demonstrates a love for his Caribbean (Bahamas) homeland and seeks to impact its development on the world scene. Though not a direct quotation, he has called for the elevation of Caribbean life and culture. This book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) to help the region become a better place to live, work and play. There is a role for the arts (including film-making) in this empowerment roadmap.

Unlike the current dread of “Black and Brown” among the Oscar nominees, the Go Lean roadmap seeks to put Caribbean people in a place of better command-and-control of their circumstances, to develop the community ethos of assisting each other to advance in our own lives, in our individual communities and in the Caribbean as a whole. The book posits that a unified Caribbean Single Market of 42 million people and a GDP of $800 Billion can foster a “domestic” film industry, much like the formations of Bollywood in India (Page 346) and Nollywood in Nigeria. Deeper exploration of this amazing business model (movies/show-business) can create jobs and garner local returns from the necessary investments.

These previous blog/commentaries drilled deeper on this quest to better foster show-business; below are some examples: ‘We Built This City …’ on Music and Show-business Forging Change: Music Moves People Art Basel Miami – a Testament to the Spread of Culture Bill Cosby – Sir Sidney’s Frequent Co-Star – Accusations abound Caribbean Role Model for the Arts/Fashion – Oscar De La Renta: RIP How ‘The Lion King’ roared into history Role Model Berry Gordy – No Town Like Motown Humanities Advocate – Maya Angelou: RIP Caribbean Music Man: Bob Marley – The legend lives on!

The quest is to elevate Caribbean society with many industrial developments, including the arts. This was stressed in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 13) with this statement:

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

This impact and overall benefit of this roadmap is pronounced in the CU‘s prime directives, identified with these 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The roadmap specifically encourages the region, to lean-in and foster the next generation of Sidney Poitier’s with these specific community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies:

Community Ethos – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 24
Community Ethos – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Intellectual Property Page 31
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Celebrate the arts, people and culture of the Caribbean Page 46
Tactical – Separation-of-Powers – Tourism and Film Promotion & Administration Page 78
Implementation – Integration of Region in Single Market of 42 million people Page 95
Anatomy of Advocacies – Ability to Change the World Page 122
Planning – 10 Big Ideas – Caribbean Single Market Page 127
Planning – Ways to Better Manage Image Page 129
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Education – Foster Performing Arts Page 159
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Justice Page 177
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Hollywood Page 203
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 222
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Youth Page 225
Advocacy – Ways to Improve the Arts Page 230
Appendix –  A Summary of Bollywood Movies Page 346

The Go Lean posits that the CU should foster the genius potential in Caribbean artists and incubate the related industries of show-business. The roadmap pronounces that with the participation of many advocates on many different paths for progress, the Caribbean can truly become a better place to live, work and play. We, along with the whole world, owe a debt to Sir Sidney for leading us along this path.

Yes, Hollywood must change and acknowledge more  diversity; but this is out-of-scope for this roadmap. The Caribbean must change … to adapt to a changing world. This is within our scope. While no Caribbean member-state may be able to compete and excel alone, together and collaboratively, we can stand up proud and present the world the beautiful contributions of Caribbean people and art. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


APPENDIX A – Sidney Poitier Honors & Awards

  • 1958 British Academy Film Award for Best Foreign Actor for The Defiant Ones
  • 1958 Silver Bear for Best Actor (8th Berlin Film Festival) for The Defiant Ones[39]
  • 1963 Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Lilies of the Field
  • 1963 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for Lilies of the Field
  • 1963 Silver Bear for Best Actor (13th Berlin Film Festival) for Lilies of the Field [40]
  • 1974 Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)
  • 1982 Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award [41]
  • 1992 AFI Life Achievement Award
  • 1995 Kennedy Center Honors
  • 1997 Appointed non-resident Bahamian Ambassador to Japan
  • 1999 SAG Life Achievement Award
  • 2000 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn
  • 2001 NAACP Image Award – Hall of Fame Award
  • 2001 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album – Rick Harris, John Runnette (producers) and Sidney Poitier for The Measure of a Man
  • 2002 Honorary Oscar – “For his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence”
  • 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom[42]
  • 2011 Film Society of Lincoln Center Gala Tribute[43] honoring his life and careers


APPENDIX B – * Presidential Medal of Freedom CU Blog - Downtime with Sir Sidney Poitier - Photo 4

This award is bestowed by the President of the United States and is — along with the comparable Congressional Gold Medal, bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award of the United States. It recognizes those individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors”.[3] (Source:


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