Q. What would an Outward Mindset require of Mr. Tibbs?
By 1967, [Sidney Poitier] was one of the most popular actors at the box office. In one of his roles, according to the script, a white man, a racist, slaps him in the face. He was not supposed to retaliate, but he courageously requested a change in the script, insisting on playing his characters with dignity.
In the movie that came out, the racist slaps him. But, with the change he insisted, he slaps the racist back.
“This was the slap heard round the world,” according to director Norman Jewison - when the racist plantation owner Endicott slaps detective Virgil Tibbs in “In the Heat of the Night”, and Mr. Tibbs, portrayed by Sidney Poitier, slaps him back.
“A black man had never slapped a white man back in an American film. We broke that taboo,” said Jewison.