Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

Blacks in Film and Television

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Sidney Poitier (left) in the film version of A Raisin in the Sun, 1961

Courtesy of The Everett Collection

Though 1967 was a banner year for the acclaimed actor Sidney Poitier (in that year he starred in three films that are all considered classics today—To Sir with Love, In the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?), it was three years earlier that Poitier became the first African American to win an Oscar for a starring role in Lilies of the Field (1963). Poitier is shown here in the 1961 film adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun playing the part of Walter Lee Younger, a role he made famous. Poitier actively sought roles and films that portrayed African Americans in a positive light. Ironically, considering the criticism that earlier actors like Stepin Fetchit and Hattie McDaniels received, Poitier was criticized for always playing the stereotype of "the Good Negro" who never stepped outside the lines of propriety.

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