Willie Brown, Danny Glover and Bay Area remember Hollywood legend Sidney Poitier's impact and legacy

"He was transformative in people's thinking. I think he just really changed a lot of minds."
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Academy Award-winning Hollywood legend, Sidney Poitier, has died at the age of 94. He touched the lives of many here in the Bay Area and will be remembered as much more than just an actor.

To many, Sidney Poitier was known as one of the most popular leading men of his generation. In his 2 decades as Hollywood's only Black star in movies such as "Defiant Ones" and "Lillies of the Field" and many more. There is one movie that had a tremendous impact on friend, fellow actor and the Bay Area's own Danny Glover.

"I remember seeing Sidney Poitier in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. The movie which brought different characters of substance to uses men, African descendants," said Glover.

San Francisco Chronicle Film Critic Mick Lasalle believes Poitier's legacy goes beyond just the movies.

"I don't think you can measure how important he was. That's why I saw he paved the way for Denzel Washington but I believe in a way, paved the way for Obama."

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Many of Poitier's roles challenged racial stereotypes.

"He was the first Black person to win an Oscar for not playing a slave."

His films also, according to Lasalle tackled many of the same issues of race and social justice America is grappling with today.

"He was transformative in people's thinking. I think he just really changed a lot of minds. He made people embarrassed the be like the people in his movies giving him a hard time. He was the biggest box office star in the 60's and it meant white people were going to his movies too," says LaSalle.

RELATED: Sidney Poitier changed movies, and changed lives

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown got to know the trailblazing Poitier through politics. He hopes the next generation will appreciate and understand the gravity of his work.

"The people in their 20's do not understand the necessity of reviewing history of Black people in American and they're going to be doomed to have it repeat, some of the things that got eliminated by people, like Sidney Poitier," said Brown in a phone interview Friday morning.

From a childhood of poverty to his status as an American icon. Poitier is seen by many as a beacon for hope.

"To see these movies, you think anything's possible and things can get better," says LaSalle.

Poitier was, in 1994 on Disney's Board of Directors. Disney is the parent company of ABC7.

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