Tuesday, February 21, 2012

'They call me Mr. Tibbs!'

I was a kid when I saw the Oscar-winning film In the Heat of the Night for the first time.

Its star, the great Sidney Poitier, quickly secured his place as a lifelong hero of mine. He is the epitome of dignity, poise and integrity, on and off screen.

For me, the best lines of the movie were these:
Chief Gillespie (Rod Steiger): "You're sure of yourself, Virgil. Funny name for a nigger boy from Philadelphia. What do they call you up there?

Virgil (Poitier): "They call me Mr. Tibbs!"
Poignantly and poetically, Poitier was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2009. It was indeed, as Same Cooke would put it, "a long time coming." Poitier turned 85 yesterday. Happy birthday, Mr. Tibbs.

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