Cicely Tyson 1924-2021
She was the trailblazer for strong Black women. Miss Tyson never played a role where Black women were portrayed as weak. Because of this she didn't have steady work in the beginning of her acting career. She spent seven decades bringing the joys and pain of Black culture to the big screen, when its often unwanted and overlooked in the industry.
"I wanted to alter the narrative about how Black people, and Black women particularly, were perceived by reflecting their dignity." - Cicely Tyson
Cicely is attributed to major movements like the 'Natural Hair Movement'. She was the first Black woman to wear her natural hair on national TV. It's the wave of Black people cutting our chemically straightened hair off to return to the kinks and coils that naturally grow from our heads. I cut my hair in 2013 and never looked back. Movements like these showed the world the beginning of Black transformation and defiance of society's acceptance.
You could've asked me any day of the week "if I could meet any icon who would it be?". My answer would've always been Cicely Tyson. She inspired me to always see myself as greater and fight for my heart's desires. I connected with her without ever meeting her. She had a voice and wisdom you were drawn to and hung on every word. She said in 2015 at BET's 'Black Girls Rock' Awards show, "I want to say to the young woman here tonight, the moment anyone tries to demean or degrade you in any way, you have to know how great you are. Respect yourself and the world will respect you. Respect elders. Remember that we are standing not on their shoulders, but on their backs. You have to understand that we are the seeds of the work of our elders."
I feel like my grandmother died. There are very few people who've walked the Earth that I will shed a tear over that I've never had the experience of knowing personally. Cicely Tyson was beauty, elegance and grace. She lived a full life and gave the people life where we felt inadequate. Cicely Tyson showed the world who we are.