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Cicely Tyson was born on this date in 1933. She was a Black model and actress.
She was born in New York City, the daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean island of Nevis, and grew up in a religious household in Harlem. She was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine and quickly rose to the top of the modeling world. In 1957, she began acting in Off-Broadway productions. She had minor roles in a few feature films before her role, as Portia in the film version of Carson McCuller's "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" (1968). Because she was committed to presenting only positive images of Black women, Tyson did not have steady work in film and television. Her next notable role was as Rebbecca Morgan in the film "Sounder" (1972).
In 1974 she appeared in perhaps her best-known role, that of the title character in the television drama, "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman." Her performance won Tyson two Emmy Awards. Later in her career, Tyson took on supporting roles in the television miniseries "Roots" (1977), "The Women of Brewster Place" (1989), and in the film "Fried Green Tomatoes" (1991). She had a starring role in "Hoodlum" (1997). Honored by the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the National Council of Negro Women, Tyson was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1977.
In 1994, she returned to television drama as a costar in the series “Equal Justice.” Tyson’s movie resume includes Always Outnumbered, Mama Flora's Family (1998), Aftershock: Earthquake in New York, A Lesson Before Dying (1999), Jewel (2001), and The Rosa Parks Story (2002).
Tyson was named a Kennedy Center honoree in 2015. In November 2016, Tyson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2020, she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Cicely Tyson died on January 27, 2021.
Africana The Encyclopedia of the African and
African American Experience
Editors: Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr.