Cicely Louise Tyson


Cicely Louise Tyson 

By Dale Ricardo Shields


Born: December 18, 1924 

Death: January 28, 2021

Cicely Tyson was a powerhouse.


“She was a talented stage, screen, and television actress who won a Tony, three Emmys, and an honorary Oscar during her remarkable seven-decade career. During a time in the film industry that often defaulted to demeaning caricatures, Ms. Tyson only accepted roles that portrayed Black women with dignity. She was an inspiration and an icon for so many people. She was critical of films and television programs that cast Black characters as criminal, servile or immoral.”

Cicely Tyson made history in 2018 as the first Black woman to win an honorary Oscar, and at 88 became the oldest person to win a Tony Award. 

For many Americans, Ms. Tyson was an idol of the Black Is Beautiful movement, regal in an African turban and caftan, her face gracing the covers of Ebony, Essence, and Jet magazines. She was a vegetarian, a teetotaler, a runner, a meditator, and, from 1981 to 1989, the wife of the jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis. Since the ’60s she had inspired Black American women to embrace their own standards of beauty — including helping to popularize the Afro.”

Graphic courtesy of #jpdesignsart – Photo by JP Designs Art

She was nominated for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her work in Sounder. For this role, she also won the NSFC Best Actress and NBR Best Actress Awards. She starred in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), for which she won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for a BAFTA Award. During her career she has been nominated for thirteen Primetime Emmy Awards, winning three. In 2011, she appeared in the film The Help, for which she received awards for her ensemble work as Constantine from the BFCA and SAG Awards and she has an additional four SAG Award nominations.

Cicely Tyson delivering a speech, June 1974. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

Cicely Tyson, actress, greeting admirers after being awarded an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia, 1970. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

She starred on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful as Carrie Watts, for which she won the Tony Award, Outer Critics Award, and Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Play.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 23: Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr. – “The Trip To Bountiful” Broadway Opening Night at Stephen Sondheim Theatre on April 23, 2013, in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage) 

She’s our Meryl Streep,” Vanessa Williams told Essence in 2013. “She was the person you wanted to be like in terms of an actress, in terms of the roles she got and how serious she took her craft. She still is.

I would not accept roles unless they projected us, particularly women, in a realistic light and dealt with us as human beings.

She previously received a Drama Desk Award in 1962 for her  Off-Broadway performance in                                     Moon on a Rainbow Shawl.

Vinnette Carroll

On November 16, 2016, it was announced that Tyson would be one of 21 new recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Actress Cicely Tyson receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2016.

She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years,                                                                                                   she left a mark on the world that few will ever match.” – President Obama


2017 Hall of Fame Inductee Shonda Rhimes presents Cicely Tyson with a Television Academy Hall of Fame award.


CeCe Winans and Terrence Blanchard – “Blessed Assurance” Cicely Tyson Kennedy Center Honors

Just Jared, Inc

WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 6: In a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, Seiji Ozawa, Rita Moreno, Carole King, George Lucas, and Cicely Tyson will be saluted by great performers from Hollywood and the arts capitals of the world on THE 38TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, to be broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 29 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R: Seiji Ozawa, Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno, George Lucas, Carole King, First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, Viola Davis, Julie Chen, and President & CEO, CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves (Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)

The Kennedy Center Honors, which recognizes achievements by Americans in the arts, recently honored leaders in music, Broadway, and film, including songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress, singer Rita Moreno, conductor Seiji Ozawa, and actress Cicely Tyson. (2016) 


Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Cicely Tyson was an award-winning Film, Stage, and Television Actress *****