Adult Students See Lesson on Perseverance in Sidney Poitier’s Life

Black and white photo of Sidney Poitier


Adult learners in Amy Rosenberg’s Adult Basic Education class read an article about Sidney Poitier’s accomplishments as an actor and activist, but they were most intrigued and inspired by Poitier’s rocky start to his acting career.

According to the article (; must register for a free account to access the article), Poitier was thrown out of his first audition.

“[Poitier] was told to read one of the parts. However, with little formal education, he read haltingly and still had a thick West Indian accent.

“Frederick O’Neal, one of the founders of the theater, came up onstage and physically marched Poitier to the door. He angrily told Poitier to stop wasting people’s time. O’Neal added, ‘Why don’t you get yourself a job as a dishwasher or something?’”

Poitier improved his English by listening to the radio and reading newspapers. He auditioned again and was hired on a trial basis. He persevered through other setbacks to become an Oscar-winning actor.

DCLC student Prince (students are identified by first names only) was the first to be inspired by the article. He made the following statement, and his classmates chimed in.


Never give up on your dream. Never give up. Sidney Poitier was thrown out of his audition, but he came back. Always be consistent in whatever you do. Keep focus and keep pressing on. God has something special for you. He will never take your mail to the wrong address. Don’t let difficulties keep you down. Whatever work you put in is what you get out. Nothing good comes easily. Just be consistent and prayerful and see the end result that everything is going to fall into the right place at the right time. When the time comes, nothing can stop you. Continue being you and keep focus. Pay attention to the signs. Do not be afraid to fail. Every time you fail, you are in the process toward your destiny. The more you fail, the closer you get. Always believe in yourself.


Just pass the first step. Never give up. Never stop trying and believing. Your day will come.


Dreams do come true.


Nothing can stop you. Sidney Poitier broke down on-screen color barriers and reached stardom.


Sidney Poitier dropped out of school at age 13. Other people may say, “You won’t do it.” If you listen, you might lose control, but if you focus and stay with it, you can get to where you want to be. Some people give you encouragement and others discourage you. Don’t listen to the discouragers. Don’t look back. Just look forward, and you will get there.


The first step is the hardest step. Never stop. Your day will come. Thank you for inspiring me. I will endure to get where I want to be. If he can do it, so can I. You have to go through something to be something. I am embarking on new things. The way you come in to DCLC is not the way you leave. You must have vision.


You can’t give up on anything.


As long as you believe that you can do it, you can set your mind to any goal.


There is nothing impossible to they who will try. Be who you are and say what you feel. Poitier was born an actor. He pursued his studies. Sometimes you don’t know what your calling is at first. He found his calling and didn’t give up. Don’t give up. One day you will make it.


Whatever you have been through, others have gone before you. Everybody has had struggles and hardships in life. They went through it firsthand. I can relate to what they went through. Different day, same problem. People can stand in your way and not have faith in you and reject you. Some people are still prejudiced with the mindset from the past. Sidney Poitier said that he was privileged to stand on the shoulders of the African American actors that went before him to see where he might go. I started out wanting to stay in school to help others who need help. I can’t hesitate. Motivation is the key. We went through so many struggles, day in and day out. At DCLC, I am at ease and relaxed, content with where I am today, working to achieve my goals and dreams.

We at DCLC are inspired by the preseverance and determination shown by these adult learners, as they work toward their goals and dreams!

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