Newswire: Legendary actor, Sidney Poitier, 94, first African-American to win ‘Best Actor Oscar’ has died

Sidney Poitier

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Legendary actor Sidney Poitier, who broke barriers and stood for justice and Black lives during the most tumultuous times of the civil rights movement, has died.
Poitier, whose iconic 71-year career, included starring roles in “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “Uptown Saturday Night,” was 94. His cause of death has yet to be confirmed.
In an exclusive phone call with the Black Press of America, Bill Cosby said he will miss his long-time friend and co-star. “He was honored by AFI. And, along with many stars of the stage, screen, politics and higher education who came out to speak, I brought with me the paperback of his autobiography and I said of all groundbreaking movies that Sidney starred in this book is the real story of this man and his journey,” Cosby remarked. “I am honored to have been close enough to him and work and work on serious matters.
According to PBS, Poitier moved to New York City at age 16 after living in the Bahamas for several years with his family. In the Big Apple, he found work as a janitor at the American Negro Theater in exchange for acting lessons. From there, he took up acting roles in plays for the next several years until his film debut in the racially charged, “No Way Out.”

Race and social justice would become central themes in much of his work throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s.
A Broadway play focused on the life of the Bahamian born star, who earned his first Academy Award nomination in 1959 for his work in “The Defiant Ones,” is in the works.
As noted in the New York Post, the nomination was significant to America as he was the first African American to be nominated for Best Actor. That role also earned him a Golden Globe win and a BAFTA Award.
Poitier broke even more barriers in 1963 with his hit film “Lilies of the Field.” The following year, Poitier became the first African American to ever win the Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
His career continued to climb for several more years. In 1967 he starred in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” an interracial romance comedy that ruffled feathers in America. Then came other memorable films, “They Call Me Mister Tibbs,” the sequel to the controversial blockbuster “In the Heat of the Night,” and “Uptown Saturday Night” opposite Cosby.
He released several more works; “The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (2007)” “Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter (2008).”
“As I entered this world, I would leave behind the nurturing of my family and my home, but in another sense, I would take their protection with me,” he said in “Measure of a Man.” “The lessons I had learned, the feelings of groundedness and belonging that have been woven into my character there, would be my companions on the journey.”

 

Newswire: All 12 Federal Appropriations Committees adopt Norton’s Minority Ad Spending Measure

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton


Beginning later this year when federal agencies submit proposed budgets to one or more of the 12 Appropriations Committees, those requests now must include a line item detailing what they are spending with minority-owned businesses, which include black-, women- and other minority-owned media outlets.
D.C. Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton told NNPA Newswire on July 26, that each of the 12 federal Appropriations Committees have adopted language from her Government Advertising Equity Accountability Act [HR 2576], which mandates all agencies include in their annual budget request to Congress the amount of money they spend to advertise in minority-owned media outlets.
She said today’s developments mean that her measure doesn’t require further action. “This is exactly what we wanted. This is it, we got it,” Norton said.
“We got all 12 of the Appropriations Committees to include the language and, in October, when the bills take effect, it will be the law and these agencies will have to comply,” she said.
Norton asked for an update on a 2007 GAO report that found, of the $4.3 billion available for advertising contracts, five agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, spent only five percent with minority-owned businesses.
A subsequent 2018 report revealed that, of the approximately $5 billion government agencies spent on advertising contracts, just $50 million went to minority-owned businesses and even considerably less to minority-owned newspaper and media companies owned by African Americans.
“This is important not just for the publications but because those publications reach minorities and women in a way that mainstream publications may not,” Norton said.
“We did this because the federal government is the largest advertiser in the United States and this gives it a special obligation to make sure that it is using advertising dollars fairly and to reach all people in the United States,” said Norton, who has served in the U.S. House since 1991.
At the request of officials from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (Black Press of America) and the National Association of Hispanic Publications, Norton ordered a Government Accountability Office (GAO) examination on the spending on advertising contracts with minority-owned businesses.
Norton began a fight to change that.
She gathered support from other members of Congress and then, in May 2019, she crafted H.R. 2576 and continued to work behind the scenes to find more immediate solutions.
During budget hearings on Capitol Hill, Norton spearheaded a bipartisan effort for the 12 Appropriations Committees to place the language in their spending bills.
President Trump also urged Republicans to pass the budget bills – though, he had not specifically addressed Norton’s measure. By Thursday, 11 of the 12 committees had agreed to include the language with the Department of the Interior being the lone holdout. However, that changed on July 26, when she secured the commitment of the Department of the Interior.
Despite her diligent work, Norton credited minority-owned media with the success of the legislation. “I didn’t just come up with this out of the blue, I credit Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. [president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association], the Black Press of America, and the National Association of Hispanic Publications because they came to see me about this a couple of years ago,” Norton said.
“They came to Congress to seek redress and I met with them, and then, having heard about what looked like a discrepancy, I needed to see if I could document that. So, I asked for the GAO report,” she said.
Although the legislation does not mandate federal agencies to spend specific dollar amounts with minority-owned media companies, Norton said she believes publishers and owners of those publications ultimately will be pleased.
“Of course, I think they will start advertising because this is a big encouragement to do so,” Norton said. “These are federal agencies under the jurisdiction of the appropriations committees, and they have to come before these committees each year to get their money. When they report back on how many dollars they spent with minority-owned and women-owned publications, they will understand that they will have to do just that and whatever they’ve done before they’ll have to strive to do even better,” Norton said.
“Once again the Black Press of America salutes the effective leadership of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton,” said Chavis. “Her diligence and commitment to diversity, inclusion and economic equity with respect to the Black Press and other minority-owned media across the United States is noteworthy and much appreciated”