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RIP, CICELY TYSON

Tributes are pouring in via social media for Cicely Tyson, the groundbreaking actress and Civil Rights activist who died Thursday at the age of 96.

Throughout her career, Tyson strictly accepted roles that conferred dignity on Black people, which significantly limited the work she took on, and was critical of films and shows that traded in stereotypes. She nonetheless appeared in more than 100 film, television and stage productions over a seven-decade career.

Tyson won three Emmy Awards, a Tony and an honorary Oscar. She’s in the American Theater Hall of Fame and the Television Hall of Fame and received a career achievement Peabody Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, awarded by former President Barack Obama.

The films and TV series she starred in are significant not only for her performances but their places in visual arts history: Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Roots and Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, to name a few. She was the first Black woman to host Saturday Night Live, back in 1979.

A native of Harlem, Tyson started on the stage, in an Off Broadway production of Jean Genet’s The Blacks in 1961 with James Earl Jones and Louis Gossett Jr. Near the end of her career, she returned to the stage, appearing with Jones in The Gin Game in the 2015-16 season.

Heather Headley wrote on Facebook: "Death has a sting... We know that all too well... So there will be sadness... But we should CELEBRATE! #Celebrate a long life well lived. Celebrate strong shoulders that carried not just women of color but ALL women... men, even! Celebrate feet that taught us what we could dance through and trample over, and celebrate a head deserving, responsible, beautiful & graceful enough to carry a crown. Yes... let’s CELEBRATE... #CicelyTyson!"

 

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