A Black History Lesson: They’re Just Human…

Paris Blues 1961, Sydney Poitier and Diahann Caroll 02

Paris Blues 1961, Sidney Poitier and Diahann Caroll

Paris Blues 1961, Sidney Poitier and Diahann Caroll

Paris Blues 1961, Sidney Poitier and Diahann Caroll

These heartwarming gifs of legendary actors Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll sent me on a quest to find the film they are from, a 1961 picture entitled, Paris Blues .

Diahann, the first African-American to star in a television series, Julia, and Sidney, the first African-American to win an Oscar for best actor for his role in Lilies Of The Field , had a charming chemistry that leaves you in a state of admiration.

Of course the search led to reading about Diahann ‘s 2008 book, The Legs Are The Last To Go , which detailed their off-screen affair ( how did I miss this? ).

Though they’ve forgiven each other in the their old age, I got really pissed at these excerpts of how things ended:

She wrote that Poitier later told her he’d finally left his wife, Juanita Hardy . He even bought Carroll a ring and made her decorate a 10-room Riverside Drive apartment he’d bought.

“I was only home a few days when he called to say his wife was having second thoughts. Our wedding plans would have to be postponed,” wrote Carroll.

She added: “When the apartment was ready and I was about to move my daughter in with me, Sidney told me he didn’t want her there . . . He changed the locks so I couldn’t get in. Then he made me write him a check to offset his purchase and decorating costs. I did as I was told, submissive and desperate.”

Sidney, you summummabish… smh.

There’s a strange feeling associated with realizing the men (and women), who’ve accomplished so much against immense odds, who’ve used their lives to improve others, and who stand as pillars of greatness, are just human.

They have affairs — both straight and homosexual, they abuse their wives and girlfriends, they abandon their children, they are drug and alcohol addicts, they lie, cheat and steal — just human.

The timing of this acknowledgement and acceptance couldn’t be more perfect, this month being Black History Month .

It’s a time when adults, who finally grow up from coloring in pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr., question the purpose of the month-long celebration that has become an over-commercialized reason to talk about the accomplishments of the same five African-Americans every year.

“Why is it limited to a month, the shortest month and what about non-American Blacks?”

Originally Negro History Week started by Carter G. Woodson in 1926, the period of self-reflection was intended to help African-Americans understand their history in order to effectively contest segregation and disfranchisement.

Many question if constantly looking at the past moves us forward. Are we effectively using this month to look at the future of Blacks in the United States?

“One of the things that has received a lot of criticism among scholars is the notion of the focus on first—the first Black astronaut, the first Black millionaire or the first Black baseball player,” says Dr. Abraham Kahn , an assistant professor at the Africana Studies Department at the University of South Florida.

“Attention to first not only deflects attention from the second, but it leads us to believe that, once there has been a first, the problem has been solved. Take the example of Jackie Robinson . Did the problem of racism in sports end? No.”

Ultimately, the past, if properly examined and discussed, should be providing tools for the future. “It forces us to learn from past failures, reassess our achievements, and re-imagine what is possible,” writes Blair L. M. Kelley , an associate professor at North Carolina State University.

In the case of Sidney and Diahann, it took her years to realize that she, like most women regardless of race, suffer from insecurities and fallacies of romance that blind us from seeing who we are really dealing with in a relationship.

“Some people come of age as a teenager. I came of age as a senior citizen,” she says in her book.

In a 2008 interview she further explained, “I was not paying close attention in my early life, and that’s why the book was so candid. I wanted to grab someone’s attention and make them ask themselves questions. I think that there are some mistakes that I made, that had I paid attention to ‘who is this man?’ I would have avoided them.”

Though the month is half over, the conversations we should be having (all year long) ought not just focus on the admiration of the shoulders we stand on, but the lessons we can learn and apply to ourselves.

With that said, enjoy watching a full version of Paris Blues below and learn more about the film .

Watch: Paris Blues (1961) [Full Movie]

spotted via black-culture