Cicely Tyson attends night two of the Television Academy’s 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)

AFRO staff and readers reflect on the life and legacy of Black Hollywood’s leading lady, the late Miss Cicely Tyson

Ingrid J.
“Courageous portrayal of a strong AfricanAmerican woman for more than seven decades.”

Darlene J.
“In the movie Help she took care of white people. She raised their kids, cooked and
cleaned. She made me realize there’s nothing wrong with that type of job. Just be good at
anything you do in life. I became a housekeeper and proud of it. I won awards given to me
from CEOs in appreciation of my work.”

Denise D.
“Will always love her in ‘Sounder.’ The strong, resilient character she played reflected so
many Black women. Still one of my all time favorite movies.”

Chippy B.
“My fondest memory of Ms. Cicely Tyson, is my admiration of her stature of natural elegance when she plays all her roles with verbal distinction and poise. All eyes on her.”

Carlene C.
“ first fond memory of Cicely Tyson is of her sweet low voice. Even in happy excitement or being upset, her voice and personality calmed the atmosphere and surroundings, in a good way. Her inner-peace was awesome.”

Jessica D.
“Cicely Tyson exuded strength and class both on and off the screen. As a woman of darker
complexion, she paved the way for so many other Black women to be successful in the
television and film industry. I was deeply sorry to hear of her passing, but it comforts me to
know that she had a life well lived.”

Sean Y.
“Hollywood had perpetuated ugly stereotypes of Black women: the buxom mammy, the tragic mulatto and the wanton harlot. And here comes Cicely Tyson; brilliant, slender, regal,
dark-skinned, whose “excruciating beauty,” as described by the New York Times, exploded
Hollywood’s narrative. An unmovable force of nature, Tyson was the embodiment of Black

Micha G.
“A humble icon that shined in a room full of stars. I met Cicely Tyson in a Bahamian airport in 2007. There were several celebrities, including Spike Lee, present as there was an
opening to a new wing of the hotel Atlantis. As a young aspiring actress, my father encouraged me to speak to Tyson and so he escorted me and introduced me to the legendary great. She told my father that she wanted to hear directly from me, and eventually, gave me advice to speak up for myself. She said ‘keep pushing’ and ‘never give up’ are words that resonate to this day, like phrases from a strong loving grandmother.”

Dorothy B.
“It was my first year of high school and my first time in school with White students. The
looks at the hair. The questions about the hair. And right in the middle of my personal culture explosion appeared Miss Cicely Tyson’s face and hair in black and white on East Side West Side. I’d seen Black people perform on Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights and in the afternoons on Mike Douglas; but East Side West Side was a serious drama in prime time television and she was a main character and she had “nappy” hair. Yeah, we weren’t talking about naturals back then. We were talking nappy hair and kitchens and frying it every Saturday night for church on Sunday. And there she was in all her nappy glory, speaking with authority and blowing it up on television. Yes! Thank you Miss Tyson!”