In his autobiography, Sidney Poitier discusses how Hollywood movie and television executives urged him to sign a “loyalty oath.” The “loyalty oath” required him to disassociate from Paul Robeson and Canada Lee, two super-talented activists who were labeled as “troublemakers” for heavily advocating for the African-American community.
Sidney Poitier described his relationship with Paul Robeson as being so close that Mr. Robeson often came to his house to visit and eat meals. Mr. Poitier considered the oath to be a bid to buy his soul. He professes that he didn’t sign the oath.
“I don’t mean to be like some old guy from the olden days who says, ‘I walked thirty miles to school every morning, so you kids should too.’ That’s a statement born of envy and resentment. What I’m saying is something quite different. What I’m saying is that by having very little, I had it good. Children need a sense of pulling their own weight, of contributing to the family in some way, and some sense of the family’s interdependence. They take pride in knowing that they’re contributing. They learn responsibility and discipline through meaningful work. The values developed within a family that operates on those principles then extend to the society at large. By not being quite so indulged and ‘protected’ from reality by overflowing abundance, children see the bonds that connect them to others.” -Sidney Poitier