Bahamas Bridge, Arts Center Named After Sidney Poitier

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The largest bridge in the Bahamas will be rechristened after actor Sidney Poitier as part of the county’s 40th anniversary celebration. Prime Minister Perry Christie will rename the Paradise Island Bridge in Poitier’s honour during a special ceremony on November 12.

Poitier, 80, is American-born to Bahamian parents, and spent much of his childhood on Cat Island which is a small, lightly populated, piece of land in the central Bahamas and just east of Florida. The Paradise Island Bridge is the largest in the Bahamas. It connects the capital to the Atlantis resort, a top tourist destination for the region. The renaming was announced earlier this week as well as plans to name a new performing arts center the government plans to build after the actor.

“It is time for us to give also to those who are artists, actors and actresses, producers, directors, to release them and give their talent the best possible opportunity to be developed in the best possible facility–we are going to use the 40th anniversary as a catalyst,” the Prime Minister said in a press conference announcing the details of the celebration.

Poitier became the first African American actor to win an Academy Award in 1963 for his role in “Lilies of the Field.” In 1967 when racial discrimination was rampant and the deep south still held on to vestiges of the Jim Crow laws, Poitier became the top box office star of the year. In that year he starred in “To Sir, With Love,” “In the Heat of the Night,” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Poitier was named one of the greatest male stars of all time by the American Film Institute in 1999.

Poitier also made a name for himself as a director. His directorial credits include “Uptown Saturday Night” and “Stir Crazy.” Comedian Bill Cosby and Poitier co-directed “Let’s Do It Again.” In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest honor given to civilians.

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