The groundbreaking actress Cicely Tyson passed away Thursday, January 28, 2021. Tyson's career spanned over seven decades, known for her intense and authentic portrayal of Black women throughout the years. She provided 1st generation Civil Rights moviegoers and TV watchers a platform to witness the changing time of desegregation. Plus, Black history truth telling, as never seen before. Her movies resonated with viewers. Tyson provided Americans to see another side of America hidden from their lens or rarely spoken. Some of her featured roles were in the movies such as
1972 "Sounder" as Mrs. Morgan
1974 "The Autobiography of Miss Pittman."
1977 "Roots" as Binta Kunta Kinte's mother
1981 "The Marva Collins Story" as Mrs. Collins
1981 "The Women of Brewster Place" as the mother of Melanie Mrs. Browne
Plus a plethora of Tyler Perry movies. For Black women & girls near and far, Cicely Tyson represented beauty throughout the ages, self-worth, dignity, and triumph. She was a child of parents who were of West Indian descent. "Raised in the Baptist and Episcopalian tradition" per a Faithfully News Culture and Christianity for the Times article written by Nicole A Menzie. https://faithfullymagazine.com/cicely-tyson-just-as-i-am/.
In Cicely's newly released book titled "Just As I Am," named after her favorite hymn, Tyson shares that although she "has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades," that she reflects on how she was "the church girl who rarely spoke a word." Per Tyson and I quote," I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book's named. I am the daughter and mother, sister, and a friend." Tyson further shares in her newly released book that she is "a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand."
(Above Cicely Tyson pictured with Rosa Parks after presenting her with the "the 1984 Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award.")
Tyson was once married to iconic jazz musician Miles Davis and the great Billy Dee Williams. She leaves behind her beloved daughter, who, per the article in Faithfully News Culture and Christianity for the Times, gave birth to "as a high school senior and refers to with the pseudonym "Joan" in her book, Just As I Am. https://faithfullymagazine.com/cicely-tyson-just-as-i-am/.
Cicely Tyson, throughout the years, refused to play parts that demeaned Black women. Tyson recognized that the children of the 60's, 70's, and 80's were watching her every move. Hence she declined to play roles as drug addicts, prostitutes, maids, or any such character that would support White supremacist ideology or mainstream America's stereotypes of Black people. And because she chose to do the right thing for her people God blessed her with long life, beauty, and political influence for over 60 years.
Rest in joy, peace, and love, dear Sister Tyson. May other actresses pick up your mantle and carry forth your years of good work and truth-telling. (Let the church say Amen.)
Please enjoy Walter Hawkins and the Love Center Choir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OtdwU1d3AQ