Sidney Poitier, who made history in 1964 when he became the first black person to win the Oscar for best actor, has passed away at the age of 94-years-old.
President Barack Obama awarded the trailblazing actor a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
“I made films when the only other Black on the lot was the shoeshine boy,” Poitier said in a 1988 Newsweek interview, according to the Associated Press. “I was kind of the lone guy in town.”
In the wake of Poitier’s passing, many people have issued statements praising him.
“Sidney was my inspiration, my guiding light, my friend,” Morgan Freeman said on Twitter.
“Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors,” Obama said in a statement posted on social media
President Joe Biden, who served as vice president during Obama’s tenure in office, issued a statement describing Poitier as a “once-in-a-generation actor” who “helped open the hearts of millions and changed the way America saw itself.”
“My honor to have loved him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher. The utmost, highest regard and praise for his most magnificent, gracious, eloquent life. I treasured him. I adored him,” Oprah Winfrey declared.
“The grace and class that this man has shown throughout his entire life, the example he set for me, not only as a black man but as a human being will never be forgotten. There is no man in this business who has been more of a North Star for me than Sidney Poitier,” Tyler Perry said on social media.