| Written by Melony F. Carter | February 7, 2021|

A Broadway performer, a multi-generational award-winning actress, a former Ebony magazine model, the dignified Cicely Tyson, (1924 – 2021) was a pathfinder.   

Since the early 1950’s— a prominent figure in the film community, Cicely Tyson, purposefully made it her true intention to represent a positive image of Black women in film and media. An early trendsetter and supporter of the natural hair movement, Cicely, was one of the first women to wear an afro on the TV series East Side West Side (1963). She would later go on to wear cornrows in the film Sounder (1972), which gained her a nomination for best actress for an Academy Award.  

As an actress, Cicely considered roles that displayed the progression of the Civil Rights movement to be necessary. In 1978, she went on to act in both TV mini-series King as Coretta Scott King, and as Harriet Tubman in A Woman Called Moses.

She was best known for roles like, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1994) which won her two Emmy Awards, Roots (1977), Harlem (1997), and the 1968 film version of Carson McCullers’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and her Emmy winning TV movie Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994).  

Growing up in Harlem, Cicely’s parents were immigrants from the Caribbean island of Nevis that helped to ground her in her religious roots.  

With a strong passion in gospel music, she eventually developed her very own Cicely Tyson Community School for Performing and Fine Arts located in East Orange, NJ. In 2015— Tyler Perry, opening his 330-acre lot production facility in the heart of Atlanta, named one of his sound stages after Cicely Tyson in her honor.  

Cited:

Biography, Editors of Biography. “Cicely Tyson.” Biography, January 28, 2021. https://www.biography.com/actor/cicely-tyson

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Cicely Tyson.” Encyclopedia Britannica, January 28, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Cicely-Tyson.

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