Sidney Poitier changed the Oscars in 1964. The academy is still grappling with the promise of that moment.

In his Oscar-winning role in “Lilies of the Field,” Poitier plays a “big, strong” handyman who helps a group of White nuns build a chapel in Arizona. The film was released less than two months after the March on Washington in 1963, and race was not a major part of the plot. Poitier, who was criticized by some for the so-called colorblind roles he played, was clear about the legacy he was building.

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