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MDCR Director John E. Johnson, Jr. on the Passing of Sidney Poitier
January 11, 2022
Lansing - John E. Johnson, Jr., Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, has issued the following statement on the passing of acclaimed actor and civil rights activist Sidney Poitier.
"Sidney Poitier's life and his dogged pursuit of a career in film directly confronted and challenged a racially monolithic Hollywood and ultimately helped to transform it. But he was not content only with breaking long-standing barriers in the entertainment industry. He was a trusted friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and when Dr. King approached him to help deliver funds to cash-strapped student activists in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964, he risked his life to do it. He became one of the leading voices for equality and justice during this critical time in our history and beyond. Throughout his long career, Poitier consistently used the platform his fame afforded him to proclaim and fight for what he called "…the essential dignity of every human being." With his passing, we have lost a giant of American art and culture and a civil rights icon."
The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.