A Loving Tribute to Cicely Tyson

May Tyson’s work, life, lessons, and stories continue gliding us forward.

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Jack Mitchell

Tyson, who rose to stardom as an actress in the 1970s, was photographed in New York City.

By Bailey Taylor, Staff Writer

Whether it was a screen, a Television or a stage, Ms. Cicely Tyson blossomed, breaking the way for many more Black entertainers, especially Black women.

Tyson grew up in Harlem, New York,  where she quickly got interested and advocated in the entertainment industry.

As she was there, she got discovered by Ebony, a magazine that targets Black people and their culture,  and had an influential career in modeling. This set of work made her very popular and known to the Black community.

However, Tyson didn’t want to just pose in front of camera. She wanted to continue to shine through acting.

Once Tyson started going that route, she recognized the discrimination happening in Hollywood. At the time, Black people often only got roles of maids, servants, and other inferior roles.

This pushed Tyson to become determined to only play roles that portrayed Black women in a more positive light.

She confronted beauty standards that omitted those that did not depict white women by implementing her natural hair on the screen. She represented the advancement of Black people in the arts with no fanfare.

Because of that, Tyson initially didn’t receive consistent work. It wasn’t until people saw her playing Miss Jane Pittman, an ex-slave who became apart of the civil rights movement, no one could deny her power and gift for this certain craft.

Cicely continued to portray roles that put Black women in a positive light. She carried this type of message and energy throughout every single role she was picked for.

And even with all of her accomplishments, she remained loyal to not promote stereotypical roles for Black women, even after her death.

It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades.””

— Cicely Tyson

Right before she passed away on January 26 at the age of 96, she released a memoir titled “Just As I Am”.

Tyson stated that that “Just As I Am” is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades.”

After the book was released and her death many known Black celebrities had a lot to say about how Tyson changed their lives for the better. Some examples ranged from Barack Obama and Tyler Perry to Kerry Washington and Viola Davis. Many even shared a word to say a farewell and mentioned how incredible Tyson was to people who weren’t aware of her.

Tyler Perry, a world-renowned African American producer, and Tyson’s godson, words for Tyson were the most heartwarming. He stated that “Every time we would talk I would ask, ‘How are you?’ and you would say, ‘I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.’ Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it.”

Cicely Tyson’s legacy sets the tone for future innovators and is cemented forever.