Raised on a remote island in the Bahamas called Cat Island, Sidney says he never considered that the color of his skin mattered until he moved to Miami at age 15 and encountered Jim Crow laws and segregation.
Because of his age, Sidney says he had a strong sense of self when he arrived in Florida. The youngest of seven children, Sidney's hardworking parents taught by example the values of pride and integrity that always guided him. "My identity was formed. I knew largely who I was," he says. "So when Florida said to me, 'You are not who you think you are,' I said to Florida, 'I am not what you think I am.'"
After arriving in Miami, Sidney became a delivery boy for a drugstore, but the pharmacist didn't explain the "rules" that came with his job—or his skin color. Once, Sidney rang the front doorbell while delivering to a white woman. She snapped at him to "get around to the back door, where you belong." Sidney couldn't figure out why, so he left the package on the front step. When he arrived home, he found his family had been threatened by the Ku Klux Klan.
Being the 1940s, the pharmacist had assumed that Sidney would know, as a black boy making a delivery he was expected to go to the back of the house. "Thank God that pharmacist didn't tell you, didn't tell you to go to the back door," Brian says. "Your life may have turned out completely different if you had known."