was the first African-American actor to win an Academy Award, he made a successful transition from being in front of the camera to behind it, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, and he was knighted. Those are just a few of the incredible honors bestowed upon the talented actor who grew up the impoverished son of a dirt farmer in the Bahamas.
After coming to New York in search of a better life, he worked menial jobs as a dishwasher and slept in a bus terminal bathroom. It was a difficult beginning, and he joined the Army hoping for more. When that didn't work out for Poitier, he found himself auditioning at the American Negro Theatre, and his career started to take off. It almost never happened, though.
In a moment of desperation during the 1940s, Poitier tried to gather the money to get back home to his family in the Bahamas. He wrote a letter to President Roosevelt, begging to borrow enough for a plane ticket. He never received a reply (thankfully for us), and Poitier later became the Oscar-winning star of Lilies of the Field
. Letters of Note
published the austere plea. Thinking about where Poitier came from and the status he carries today proves anything is possible.
Dear President Roosevelt,
My name is Sidney Poitier and I am here in the United States in New York City. I am from the Bahamas. I would like to go back to the Bahamas but I don't have the money. I would like to borrow from you $100. I will send it back to you when I get to the Bahamas. I miss my mother and father and I miss my brothers and sisters and I miss my home in the Caribbean. I cannot seem to get myself organized properly here in America, especially in the cold weather, and I am therefore asking you as an American citizen if you will loan me $100 to get back home. I will send it back to you and I would certainly appreciate it very much.
Your fellow American,