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Letters to the Editor: That time Sidney Poitier showed me profound human decency

Sidney Poitier receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama at the White House in 2009
Sidney Poitier, shown being given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama at the White House in 2009, died Jan. 6 at the age of 94.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

To the editor: I mourn the loss of actor, director and icon Sidney Poitier. But like millions of people less recognizable in Hollywood, I mourn him as a person of humanity and acute awareness of racial sensitivity.

To that end, I had the chance to briefly meet Poitier in 2006 when I was a guest at Hillcrest Country Club in Century City. On that day, the assembled golf foursomes at the first tee ahead of me were primarily white persons, with the exception of Poitier (and myself — I am Chinese American).

Poitier was walking to the tee box of the first hole. Then, he saw me, stopped mid-stride, walked over and said, “Hello, what’s your name?”

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I said my name, to which he responded, “Well, John, welcome to Hillcrest. Be well.”

Mind you, I didn’t know Poitier, nor was I aligned with some influential people at Hillcrest. I was and still am a nobody.

And yet, what was not lost on me was that for Poitier, all that mattered was that he saw a human who may have needed comfort.

John Lee, Rancho Cucamonga


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