Sidney Poitier To Be CMC Commencement Speaker Sunday, May 19

Academy Award winning actor and humanitarian Sidney Poitier will be the speaker at Claremont McKenna College’s 55th annual commencement ceremonies, 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, in Badgley Garden.

Poitier, the first black actor to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, recently received an Honorary Award by the Board of Governors of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences for his lifetime achievement. In a career spanning five decades, Poitier was first nominated in 1958 for The Defiant Ones, and won the statuette in 1963 for Lilies of the Field. He has appeared in more than 40 films, including such classics as To Sir, With Love; Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner; A Raisin in the Sun; and In the Heat of the Night.

“I arrived in Hollywood at the age of 22 in a time different than today’s, a time in which the odds against my standing here tonight 55 years later would not have fallen in my favor,” Poitier said when accepting his recent award. “Back then, no route had been established for where I was hoping to go, no pathway left in evidence for me to trace, no custom for me to follow.

“Yet, here I am this evening at the end of a journey that in 1949 would have been considered almost impossible and in fact might never have been set in motion were there not an untold number of courageous, unselfish choices made by a handful of visionary American filmmakers, directors, writers and producers; each with a strong sense of citizenship responsibility to the times in which they lived; each unafraid to permit their art to reflect their views and values, ethical and moral, and moreover, acknowledge them as their own.”