French film actor Omar Sy in the June 2014 issue of French Vanity Fair
Poet and novelist Sam Greenlee has died in Chicago at the age of 83.
Greenlee was best known for his 1969 novel “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” later adapted into a political drama movie. Close friend and cast member in the movie, Pemon Rami, says Greenlee died early Monday.
Greenlee was one of the first African Americans to join the U.S. foreign service. From 1957-1965, he worked for the U.S. Information Agency, serving in Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia and Greece.
"The Spook Who Sat by the Door" tells the story of a black CIA agent who becomes a revolutionary training young Chicago blacks for a violent rebellion. His other works include "Baghdad Blues," in which he describes witnessing the 1958 revolution that brought down Iraq’s British-backed monarchy.
Images: Times Union, Nov. 8, 1973, Chicago
"My greatest struggle is trying to support my mom and sisters back in Jamaica. I try to send money back every month, but sometimes I just can’t do it after I’ve paid my bills. They really depend on the money, because my stepfather is a farmer and a lot of times the crops aren’t good. A lot of people back home think that money comes easy in America. They don’t know how hard it is."
‘And last, my mom. I don’t think you know what you did. You had my brother when you were 18 years old. Three years later, I came out. The odds were stacked against us, single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old. Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here. We moved from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I have is when we moved into our first apartment, no bed, no furniture and we just all sat in the living room and just hugged each other because we thought we made it.’
‘When something good happens to you, I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to look back to what brought me here. And you wake me up in the middle night in the summertime, making me run up the hill, making me do push-ups, screaming at me from the sidelines at my games at 8 or 9 years old. We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe, you kept us off the street, put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry, you sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.’