Sidney Poitier’s daughter shares emotional tribute to late actor: ‘His goodness lives on’

Sir Sidney Poitier’s daughter, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, is honouring her late father.

On Tuesday, the actress shared an emotional tribute to the legendary actor and his long-standing legacy, while also giving insight into their relationship.

Sidney, an Oscar-winning actor, writer, director and activist, died on January 6. He was 94.

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“There are no words for this,” Sydney wrote via Instagram. “No real way to prepare for this. No prose beautiful enough, no speech eloquent enough to capture the essence of my dad.

“We know his accomplishments are many and that he quite literally changed the landscape for everyone who came after him. He blazed a trail through rough and hostile terrain so those coming behind him could have a bit more ease on the journey.”

Sydney highlighted her father’s powerful “strength of character and moral fortitude”.

“So the people that claimed that this mountain was theirs and theirs alone would know that we belonged. That it was indeed our mountain too,” her tribute continued. “That we were coming and that we were staying. We know how graceful and wise he was. How powerful his strength of character and moral fortitude. But what I really want people to know is how GOOD he was.

“I know people know he was good, but I don’t think they know the depth of his goodness. That it permeated every cell of his being. The sort of goodness that prevented him from killing even the tiniest of bugs. Not A One. I am a wizard at removing a spider with a shot glass and a piece of paper because of him.”

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Sydney added that her grief isn’t only from the loss of her father, but also because “the world lost so much goodness.”

“He was like a lighthouse. Warm and bright. No matter the storms whipping around him, he stood unwavering shining his light,” she shared.

The actress concluded her tribute by writing that although losing her dad has caused “unbearable pain” and she would miss the little things, it helps to know that his “goodness that changed the world” will live on forever.

“I will miss you more than words can express Dad. I will feel you in the warmth of the sun on my back, I will hear you in the wind in the trees and I will look for you among the stars where you will surely be,” she wrote. “I love you.”

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Sidney cemented his place in history when he became the first Black man to win an Oscar in 1964 for his role in Lilies of the Field, in which he played an itinerant labourer who helps a group of white nuns build a chapel.

Many of his best-known films explored racial tensions as Americans were grappling with social changes wrought by the civil rights movement.

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Read Sydney’s full tribute to her father below:

There are no words for this. No real way to prepare for this. No prose beautiful enough, no speech eloquent enough to capture the essence of my dad. We know his accomplishments are many and that he quite literally changed the landscape for everyone who came after him.

He blazed a trail through rough and hostile terrain so those coming behind him could have a bit more ease on the journey. So the people that claimed that this mountain was theirs and theirs alone would know that we belonged. That it was indeed our mountain too. That we were coming and that we were staying. We know how graceful and wise he was. How powerful his strength of character and moral fortitude. But what I really want people to know is how GOOD he was.

I know people know he was good, but I don’t think they know the depth of his goodness. That it permeated every cell of his being. The sort of goodness that prevented him from killing even the tiniest of bugs. Not A One. I am a wizard at removing a spider with a shot glass and a piece of paper because of him.

He had a deep reverence for all life, and a true awareness of our interconnectedness. He knew on a cellular level that if he hurt anyone or anything he hurt everyone and everything. He treated anyone who crossed his path as his equal and offered them his full presence. He was GOOD.

My grief is because I lost my dad, but it is also because the world lost so much goodness. He was like a lighthouse, warm and bright. No matter the storms whipping around him, he stood unwavering shining in his light. Those of us who were flailing around in the dark waters could always orient towards him and swim for the shores.

In these last few years his body grew weaker and his ability to communicate failed him, but the goodness remained. In fact it grew even greater. It radiated out of him through his eyes, his smile, through the tiniest of gestures. My sister Anika and I would go be with him as often as we could. Just to be in his presence, to hold his hand, to tell him what hilarious thing one of our kids had said to us that day. Often we could have our other sisters on FaceTime because they don’t live in Los Angeles.

The wonderful women who helped care for him would do the same. Coming in to see him as often as they could where even in his weakest physical state he would be as flirtatious and charming as ever. We thought we were taking care of him. I see now that the truth is he was still taking care of us. He was reminding us, particularly in these uncertain times, of the power of GOODNESS. That even when the body is fading and things seem to be falling apart around us, the goodness remains.

The pain of losing him seems unbearable at times. That my daughter can’t take a running leap onto his bed and wrap her arms around him. That I can’t lay my head on his shoulder and feel the anchoring safety he brought to my life. That he will never sit at the head of the table at Thanksgiving or Christmas and fill the house with his healing laughter.

But then I remember that even though his physical body is gone now, his goodness lives on. It lives on in his wife, his children, his grandchildren, in his movies and books, in every warm embrace he offered an adoring fan, every piece of advice he gave to those he mentored, every tiny bug he gently placed outside. It’s his goodness that changed the world, and it will live on forever. I will miss you more than words can express Dad. I will feel you in the warmth of the sun on my back, I will hear you in the wind in the trees and I will look for you among the stars where you will surely be. I love you.

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