A STATE-RECOGNISED Service of Thanksgiving in honour of the late Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE, was held on Father’s Day.

It capped off a weekend of celebrating “Sir Sidney, With Love”, with memorials in Parliament and Rawson Squares depicting aspects of the life of the Bahamian-American actor, film director and diplomat; a cultural presentation on Saturday evening at Atlantis; and the Memorial Mass yesterday at St Francis Xavier Cathedral.

Governor General CA Smith attended, along with Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper, Cabinet ministers, FNM leader Michael Pintard, members of the Judiciary, parliamentarians, former prime ministers, the Bahamas Christian Council, and other officials.

Also present were three of Sir Sidney’s daughters: Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, and other family members.

Archbishop Patrick Pinder delivered the homily, saying Sir Sidney broke racial barriers, regarding all humans as created in the image of God, endowed for greatness. He won coveted awards during his lifetime; and of significant importance he used his status to fight for racial justice, the archbishop said.

Sir Sidney died on January 6 at his home in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 94. He was the youngest of seven children born to Evelyn (nee Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, Bahamian farmers who owned a farm on Cat Island.

In 1964, he was the first African American actor and first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for the movie, Lilies of the Field. He received two Golden Globe Awards, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award (BAFTA), and a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.

In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United states by President Barack Obama, and was granted a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth in 1974. He was The Bahamas’ Ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007. He was also Ambassador of The Bahamas to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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