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Sidney Poitier on hand as Bahamas bridge renamed in his honor; call for protests ignored

A bridge in the Bahamas was renamed Friday to honor Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier, with no sign of any protests called for by an opposition politician.

Hundreds of spectators cheered as Poitier and Prime Minister Perry Christie arrived for the rechristening of the Paradise Island Bridge as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of Bahamian Independence.

The bridge, the largest in the island chain east of Florida, will now be known as the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge.

Poitier spent much of his childhood in the Bahamas, mostly on sparsely populated Cat Island, and he has served as a Bahamian ambassador to Japan and UNESCO. In a dedication speech, Christie noted his philanthropy in the Bahamas and his "awe-inspiring," life story.

"You played against the stereotype, and in doing so, you broke it," the prime minister said. "Through your portraits in one film after another, you gave personal witness to the humanity, the dignity, the pride, and the self-respect of the black man."

There had been some grumbling in the weeks since the government announced its plan to rename the bridge, with critics questioning whether Poitier had done enough in the country to warrant the honor. Celi Moss, an opposition candidate for parliament, and others had called for protests at the re-christening ceremony. But no opponents showed up and the event went off without incident.