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Iconic Actress Cicely Tyson Dies, Accolades Flood In

Photo by David Shankbone/ Flickr
Cicely Tyson 2012 Shankbone

Cicely Tyson was born December 19, 1924, and had a career spanning more than seven decades — her roles, most of them award-winning are too abundant to list. She acted on film, television, and stage.

In November 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Tyson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the country. In 2020, Tyson was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Tyson passed away on Jan. 28 at the age of 96. No cause of death was released.

Accolades for Tyson flooded the media.

More than just an actor, she reframed the identity of what it meant to be Black and human on the screen, with special attention devoted to Black women –Gil Robertson, AAFC.

“This one brought me to my knees! She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup,” filmmaker Tyler Perry, who starred Tyson in a number of his films, wrote in a social media statement.

Perry added, “”My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next. To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy. She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence.

“Icon doesn’t even begin to describe Cicely Tyson and her impact. The members of the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) are absolutely devastated by her passing, but, yet, so deeply grateful for her very existence. More than just an actor, she reframed the identity of what it meant to be Black and human on the screen, with special attention devoted to Black women,” said Gil Robertson, CEO of the AAFCA, in a statement. The AAFCA is the world’s largest group of Black film critics that give various annual awards for excellence in film and television.

Robertson continued in the statement, “In 2013, AAFCA was especially fortunate to have been able to salute her excellence with a Special Achievement Award honoring her lifetime of outstanding work. Whether she was Harriet Tubman or just Miss Jane Pittman at the water fountain, she made us proud with every role she played. Enduring the subtle pushback against Black humanity during her press run for ‘Sounder,’ her Oscar-nominated performance, committed her to becoming more than an actress. From that moment, she became a vessel through which all the dignity of who she was as a Black person, a Black woman, could flow. “

Robertson added, “She will be forever remembered as a trailblazer and advocate for civil rights and women’s rights. We are inspired by her genius and to her standard of excellence.”

“In her extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson was one of the rare award-winning actors whose work on the screen was surpassed only by what she was able to accomplish off of it,” former President Barack Obama tweeted. “She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years, she left a mark on the world that few will ever match.”

Former First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted, “What struck me every time I spent time with Cicely Tyson was not necessarily her star power—though that was evident enough—it was her humanity. Just by walking into a room, she had this way of elevating everyone around her.”

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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