Academy Award winner and pioneering Louis Gossett Jr. received the Phoenix Award, Atlanta’s highest honor, on Oct. 2 from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for a life-time of remarkable stage, film and television performances and for breaking down barriers.
Gossett, 82, an African American actor and philanthropist, who now lives part-time in Atlanta, also received a proclamation from Atlanta City Council members at the Oct. 2 regular meeting.
Councilmember Matt Westmoreland, who cosponsored the honor, called Gossett “an American icon and a treasure to the city of Atlanta.”
He said the actor’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, and his unwavering stance on social justice issues, and the many ways he has impacted film and entertainment, make him a legend.
“Atlanta is truly proud to be a second home to this amazing man,” Westmoreland said. “I’m also looking forward to viewing his current Atlanta productions, and I’m grateful for the ways in which he’s contributing economically to our city.”
The award was co-sponsored by council members Andrea L. Boone (District 10), Marci Collier Overstreet (District 11), Michael Julian Bond (Post 1 At-Large) and Andre Dickens (Post 3 At-Large).
Gossett’s Atlanta projects include joining the cast of the HBO’s drama series Watchmen, based on a graphic novel of the same name in May; and in June, he began filming On Smoother Dirt, the story of American icon and baseball legend Ernie Eubanks.
He is also executive producer of the upcoming documentary Ali’s Comeback: The Untold Story, chronicling the 1970 match between champion heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali and Jerry Quarry.
Gossett, whose film and entertainment career span more than six decades won his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman in 1982. He is also well known for his performance as Fiddler in the 1977 ABC television miniseries Roots for which he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor.
He also appeared in stage and film adaptations of A Raisin in the Sun; and co-starred with James Earl Jones and Maya Angelou in Jean Genet’s The Blacks, which had the longest off-Broadway run of the 1960s. He also starred in the title role in Sadat, a miniseries chronicling the life and assassination of third Egyptian President Anwar Sadat; and as Dean Parker in the 1991 action-drama filmToy Soldiers.
Gossett, an outspoken advocate of civil rights and racial equality, and his Eracism Foundation, launched in November 2013, are working towards a society without racism by offering programs that fosters cultural diversity, historical enrichment, education and anti-violence initiatives.