Cicley Tyson: A Tribute to an Extraordinary Career (1924-2021)
"A legend and an icon are old people. [Laughs] A legend is somebody who’s lived a long, long time. And an icon is the same thing. [Laughs] People are being very kind and that’s fine, but I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world," says Cicley Tyson in an interview with her long time friend and coworker, Viola Davis for Elle Magazine.
I always have great admiration for people that become THE FIRST at something. So many of our beautiful Black pioneers have paved many roads for others. You know, like the first four Black students that sat in an all white diner in Greensboro, North Carolina in the 1960s. Or William H. Carney, who was born a slave but became the first Black soldier to earn the medal of honor in 1900. Cicely Tyson, a dedicated actress, made a wave like no other pushing through endless odds. She was loved by many for her grace, kindness, perseverance, and continued acts to make sure she ONLY played in roles that made a difference to our culture. She was bold and gentle at the same time.
Here are some of Tyson's most memorable and greatest achievements of her lifetime and the impact she made in the Black entertainment industry until her death on January 28, 2021.
Cicely Tyson was born on December 19th, 1924 in Harlem. Growing up in New York Tyson shared a story with ABC7News that, one day a woman stopped her and her mother on the street and said, "take care of this child. She has a sixth sense. She's going to make you very proud one day and she will take care of you in your old age."
In 1974 Tyson won Best Lead Actress and Actress of the Year for playing Jane Pittman in the film,The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.
In 1972, Tyson got her first lead role in the movie, Sounder. This movie changed the way Black women were portrayed in Hollywood and also gave Tyson her first Oscar nomination for the role of Rebecca.
In 1977, Tyson was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. In 1980, she received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement. In 1982, Tyson was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award.
In 1978 she was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a mini series called King. She played Coretta Scott King, Dr Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife.
In 1977, she was nominated AGAIN for another Emmy for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in the series Roots.
In 1981, Tyson received a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini Series for her role in The Marva Collins Story.
In 1994, Tyson took home yet ANOTHER Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Mini Series for her role as Castalia in Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. Personally, I'd only watch the movie to see Tyson!
In 2006, she won the Distinguished Career Achievement award at the Black Movie Awards, that Oprah had the pleasure of presenting!
In 2009, she hit The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week looking fabulous wearing Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection!
The 2010 NAACP Image Awards was one of my favorite achievements of Tyson. She won Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture AND she looked absolutely gorgeous!
Tyson won her very own Tony Award in 2013, for the stage play The Trip to Bountiful.
In 2016, Tyson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States. Former President Barack Obama was more than pleased to honor her with this medal!
I’m saying to myself, “Cicely Tyson, you come from 315 East 102nd Street, and here you are, sitting in a chair in front of the first Black president of the United States, receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom. How is that possible?"
In 2018, Tyson became the first African American woman to receive an Honorary Oscar and she was later inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame!
This one may not necessarily be a big achievement or an award, but I mean you've got to give it up to this woman. She married MILES DAVIS and they were married for almost 8 years! He even used her photo for his album cover, Sorcerer.
"He had no idea of his talent," Tyson said. "He really did not understand why people were fussing over him. He didn't. And that's what's sad," said Cicely.
Cicely Tyson had so many more accomplishments with her masterful talents, but these are the ones that stand out to us the most. She left behind so many celebrities and loved ones that adored her, as well as her fans! Tyson loved her work and believed in so much for Black entertainers, especially Black women. Her memoir "Just As I Am" is her latest creation she left behind for us. Her loss is devastating but I don't think this is the last we are going to see of Tyson. Autobiography movie in the works.....maybe??
We Love you Cicely, thank you for being such an extraordinary woman!