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We called him Mister Tibbs

The greatest African American actor of the 20th century left a positive legacy

Sidney Poitier Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

We called him Mister Tibbs
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Sidney Poitier, the first African American to win an Oscar for best actor, died Jan. 6 at age 94. The youngest son of a tomato farmer from the Bahamas, Poitier grew up illiterate but learned to read and worked as a theater janitor in exchange for acting lessons. Throughout his career of more than 50 film and television roles, Poitier focused on acting in, producing, and directing films that portrayed African Americans in a positive light and avoided racial stereotypes. In one year, 1967, he starred in To Sir, With Love, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night, all of which dealt with race relations. He won best actor at the 1964 Academy Awards for his role in Lilies of the Field in 1963. Poitier was raised Catholic but expressed agnosticism and deism as an adult. In his autobiography The Measure of a Man, he described his view of God, writing, “this consciousness is a force so powerful … so unimaginably calibrated in its sensitivity that not one leaf falls in the deepest of forests on the darkest of nights unnoticed.”


A record 4.5 million Americans quit jobs in November. Many analysts see the large number of resignations as a sign that workers are confident in their ability to land better jobs as the market continues to bounce back. The Labor Department also reported that employers posted 10.6 million job openings in November. That was down from 11.1 million in October but still high. Analysts say the record number of quits indicates a recovering economy and better bargaining power for workers, which will likely result in wage increases. The United States is now 3.6 million jobs short of prepandemic levels, and the unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent


A court in the capital city of Naypyitaw, Myanmar, also known as Burma, sentenced ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four more years in prison for possessing walkie-talkies in her home and for violating COVID-19 protocols, charges that her defenders said were politically motivated. Altogether, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, has been sentenced to a total of six years in prison so far, with many more charges pending against her. Suu Kyi received a similar four-year sentence last month for inciting dissent and breaching COVID-19 restrictions. The military junta later reduced her sentence by half.


Life imprisonment is just the beginning for the three men convicted of felony murder for the February 2020 murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga. The three face further charges of federal hate crimes later this year. Travis McMichael, 35, and his father Greg, 66, on Jan. 7 received the state’s mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole. William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, also received a life sentence but was granted the possibility of parole after he serves at least 30 years. Attorneys indicated they will appeal the murder convictions. They have 30 days from sentencing to file motions. Travis McMichael’s attorney asked the judge to allow parole, arguing he is not a danger to society and deserves a chance for redemption.


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