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Sidney Poitier receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the hands of US President Barack Obama, August 2009. The first black person to win the Oscar for best actor, Poitier has died at the age of 94 | Photo: EFE / MATTHEW CAVANAUGH

Sidney Poitier, the star of the golden age of American cinema who paved the way for black actors in the United States, died this Friday at the age of 94.

The death was confirmed to the press by the director general of the Bahamian Foreign Office, Eugene Torchon-Newry. No other details of the actor’s death have yet been released.

A Bahamian-American citizen, Poitier was the first black man to win the Oscar for best actor for his performance in A Voice in the Shadow of 1963. In this film, he plays a worker who helps a group of white nuns to build a chapel. .

He is also known for his roles in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, “To the Master with Affection” and “In the Heat of the Night”.

Poitier was instrumental in changing the Hollywood tradition at the time of giving black people only cartoonish roles or limited to parts that could be cut out of movies when they were shown in certain areas of the segregated country.

In addition to his film work, Poitier was a civil rights activist and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009 for his role in the cause.