Just As Cicely Tyson Was: Remembering An Icon

Courtesy: Raymone Thornton

Multi-award winning actress Cicely Tyson devoted her life to portraying strong Black women on stage and screen. The esteemed actress began her career as a model in Ebony magazine and became a first-time author in 2021. Tyson’s memoir, “Just As I Am”, was published on January 26, just days before she passed away on January 28, 2021. Of Caribbean decent, Tyson was born in Harlem, N.Y. on December 19, 1924 and died at the age of 96.

While promoting her book, the 5’ foot 3’’ icon said:

I am a woman
who has hurt as immeasurably
as I have loved,
a child of God
divinely guided by His hand.
And here in my ninth decade,
I am a woman who, at long last,
has something meaningful to say.

Cicely Tyson, Author; Actress; Activist

Reportedly worth $10 million, Tyson is the mother of one daughter whose real name and identity are not disclosed in the memoir. Joan, the pseudonym Tyson uses in the book, was fathered by Tyson’s first husband Kenneth Franklin in February 1943. At the time, she was just 18 years old.

Tyson was also the ex-wife of famous jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, who passed away on September 28, 1991. She was the Godmother of singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz, who posted several tributes and pictures of the beautiful actress on social media, calling her “a true pioneer.”

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“[Cicely] Tyson at the Governor’s Ball after the Emmy telecast 9/11/94.” (Alan Light / Wikimedia Commons)
Tyson was a civil rights activist and became a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient in 2016. At the ceremony, former President Barack Obama said: “In her long and extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson has not only exceeded as an actor, [but] she has shaped the course of history.”

The talented star has made dozens of cameo appearances in several genres of film and television throughout her decades-long career. One of her last starring roles was in Ava DuVernay’s ‘Cherish The Day’ television series on OWN in 2019.

Tyson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Rebecca Morgan, a sharecropper’s wife, in the 1972 film Sounder. She won two Emmy Awards for her role as a 110-year-old ex-slave in CBS television movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman in 1974. She also played the powerful mother of Kunta Kinte in Alex Haley’s television miniseries Roots in 1977.

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“American film star Cicely Tyson during press conference in Utrecht.” (Hans Peter / Wikimedia Commons)
Tyson, whose career spanned six decades, returned to Broadway in 2013 in “The Trip to Bountiful” to become the oldest Tony Award-winner in history at the age of 88. Tyson received her star on the Hollywood Walk for Fame in August 1997, one of the highest honors for an artist.

She will be remembered not only for her talents but also the impact she left on the world. ~

CHERella COX, Guest Editor

Cherella Cox is a guest editor for Rwebel Magazine, contributing periodic pieces to our columns.


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