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A TRIBUTE TO AN ICON

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A TRIBUTE TO AN ICON

In a society full of people who are too concerned about what people will think of them,Cisely Tyson was different: she only cared about her principles and emancipation of her people. Words fall short when one tries to describe Cisely Tyson. She was one in a million, larger than life. She was a breath of fresh air in a world filled with hypocrites, racism and segregation. Her honest commitment to her profession will continue to serve as a beacon of hope to many African -American. 

Legendary award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, known for her on-screen portrayals of strong black women, has died at the age of 96.Tyson’s family announced her death on Thursday January 28 in a statement via her manager Larry Thompson.’With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon.

At this time, please allow the family their privacy,’ Thompson said.Tyson broke into movies with the 1959 Harry Belafonte film “Odds Against Tomorrow,” followed by “The Comedians,” “The Last Angry Man,” “A Man Called Adam” and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.” Refusing to participate in the blaxploitation movies that became popular in the late ’60s, she waited until 1972 to return to the screen in the drama “Sounder,” which captured several Oscar nominations including one for Tyson as best actress.  

Days before her passing, she released her new memoir, Just As I Am, which she promoted in an appearance on CBS This Morning with Gayle King. Tyson, who had just turned 96 in December, was a acting icon, who pioneered roles for black stars over a career which spanned more than six decades Cisely received an honorary Oscar in November 2018,with the Academy saying her ‘unforgettable performances and personal integrity have inspired generations of film-makers, actors and audiences’.Besides her Oscar nomination, Tyson had won two Emmys for playing the 110-year-old former slave in the 1974 television drama ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.’ 

President Obama – who awarded her the Medal of Freedom in 2016 – wrote: ‘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. She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years, she left a mark on the world that few will ever match.’Oprah Winfrey posted a picture of herself with Tyson on Instagram, writing: ‘Cicely decided early on that her work as an actor would be more than a job. She used her career to illuminate the humanity of Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised. Her life so fully lived is a testimony to Greatness.’ Actor and director Tyler Perry also posted an emotional tribute, telling how Oprah broke the news to him while he was watching one of Tyson’s movies.He wrote online: ‘I was sitting at the table working when I got this overwhelming feeling to watch Miss Jane Pittman. I hadn’t seen the movie in years. I didn’t even understand the feeling to turn it on, but I did anyway. Not 12 minutes into the movie my phone rang. It was Oprah calling to tell me that Cicely had died. 

‘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.’He 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.Tyson recently starred in Tyler Perry’s 2020 Netflix thriller, A Fall from Grace, her final film role before her death.Rest in Perfect Peace.

Author: Seyi Awoleye

Los-Angeles, USA

seyiawoleye@yahoo.com

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