On Jan. 28, it was reported that the legendary Cicely Tyson passed away at the age of 96. The world is mourning the loss of one of the most prolific actresses in history but also celebrating her legacy. Oprah Winfrey honored the Emmy and Tony winner in a now viral social media post.
Winfrey posted a photo of herself and Tyson on Instagram with the caption, “Of all the times and experiences we shared together, this was one of my favorites: The weekend of the Legends Ball in 2005.The idea for the ball originated because I wanted to celebrate HER, and other remarkable Black women who carved a path and built a bridge for me and generations to follow.”
She continued, “What a joy to honor her and feel her receive it! I loved her hat so much, she sent it to me afterwards. 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.”
Oprah is correct, Tyson’s resume is flawless.
In 1951, Tyson made her television acting debut on an NBC series called Frontiers of Faith. Her breakthrough role came In 1972, with her portrayal of sharecropping mother and wife Rebecca Morgan in Sounder. The role earned her Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
In 1977, she also earned an Emmy nomination for playing Kunta Kinte’s mother in the legendary Roots mini-series.
Tyson won three Emmys; two for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974) and one for The Oldest Living Confederate Widow (1994). In 2013, Tyson conquered Broadway at 88 years old and won a Tony Award for The Trip to Bountiful.
A new generation of Black Hollywood had the opportunity to work closely with Tyson in her final years. She was a scene stealer on the hit NBC show How to Get Away With Murder playing the mother to Viola Davis’ character for five years (2015-2020) and she co-starred in several Tyler Perry films, including the psychological Netflix thriller A Fall From Grace in early 2020.
That same year, Tyson played retired actress Miss Luma Lee Langston on Ava Duvernay’s OWN project Cherish the Day.
The Harlem native received an Oscar in 2018, an honorary award for her lifetime’s body of work.
Tyson released her final work, a memoir, on just three days ago (Jan. 26), with Just As I Am. The book focuses on her life and the highlights of her career that spanned seven decades.
Rest in power, Cicely Tyson.