She was our matriarch, our queen, our Cicely. We mourn the passing of icon, trailblazer, activist, actress and 8x NACCP Image Award winner, Ms. Cicely Tyson. Tyson, who died on January 29 was 96 years old. “Today, the world lost a legend, an activist, and a groundbreaking actress, Cicely Tyson. She was an idol for so many of us, including myself, and brought our heroes to life on the silver screen. Not only was she awarded with 8 NAACP Image Awards, but she also received the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for a lifetime of achievement in 2010. She will remain a beacon and a strong inspiration for generations to come” said, NAACP President & CEO, Derrick Johnson.
Out of 12 films which featured African-Americans in leading roles in 1980, Cicely Tyson was the only female in that category. She played opposite Richard Pryor in Bustin’ Loose. Because of this, she and officials at the annual NAACP Image Awards program decided that she should not accept the award. From 1980 through 2017, Tyson garnered 15 nominations and 8 wins.
One of Tyson’s most memorable NAACP Image Awards moments was her presentation of the Chairman’s award to her “jewel” Tyler Perry at the 41st NAACP Image Awards. “Stay true to yourself and always keep reaching for the stars, of which, I hope, I will always be one” said Tyson.