Baltimore, MD, September 28, 2015 – The NAACP National Board of Directors along with NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks announced Sidney Poitier as the 2015 NAACP Spingarn Medal recipient. Mr. Poitier is the 100th recipient of the Spingarn Medal. The medal is presented annually to the man or woman of African descent and American citizenship who has made the highest achievement during the preceding year or in consideration of an overall body of work by an individual.
“I am grateful Mr. Poitier’s upbringing did not subject him to the deference often expected in our society, and he chose to move outside the barriers of expectations to pursue his dreams and offer his gifts and talents,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman, NAACP National Board of Directors. “The honors and awards for Mr. Poitier over the years have been phenomenal. He raised expectations, created opportunities, and is especially deserving of our highest honor – the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal.”
Sidney Poitier received his first Academy Award nomination in 1958 as Best Actor in the film The Defiant Ones. In 1964, he won an Oscar for Lilies of the Field, the first African American to win for a leading role. In 1967, he took on three different characters in three different movies, all dealing with race, racial issues, and breaking down social barriers: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, To Sir with Love,and In the Heat of the Night.
“Sidney Poitier is a pioneer not only in respect to the depiction of African American men in fiction, films, music and the arts,” said NAACP President Cornell William Brooks. “But he is also an extraordinary counterpoint to the character, intelligence, vulnerability and breadth of the African American man. He had the courage to take on groundbreaking roles and will always stand out to other actors as an example of excellence in the arts.”
Although Mr. Poitier has retired from acting, he remains one of America’s most respected African American actors.
The Spingarn Medal was instituted in 1914 by the late J.E. Spingarn, then Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors. For more information about the Spingarn Award and a list of past recipients, please visit http://www.naacp.org/pages/spingarn-medal.