The Life and Art of Cicely Tyson

Posted on February 9, 2021

by Eric P

Acting is a tough racket. Some performers consider themselves lucky if they work for seven weeks. So to have an acting career that spans seven decades is a notable thing indeed.

Cicely Tyson, who died on January 28, accumulated over the course of her long career Emmys, a Tony, a Peabody, an honorary Oscar, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. On top of all that, Oprah Winfrey officially designated her a legend, and I’m pretty sure that’s even harder to get than a Nobel.

Tyson’s legacy is not only artistic but socially active; early in her career she was outspoken in her refusal to accept roles that were racially stereotypical or demeaning. Instead she chose characters who enabled her distinctive range. Sometimes she was indomitable, sometimes frail; sometimes earthy, sometimes regal – not infrequently, she was all of those at once and more. Her body of onscreen work tends to inspire not just admiration but reverence; as an eloquent friend of mine posted in a remembrance online, “How was she possible? And yet. She was.”

Tyson’s autobiography Just As I Am was published just a couple of days before she died.

Cover of Just As I Am

Just As I Am
By Cicely Tyson

A sampling of Tyson’s performances is available through the library via DVD and Hoopla, along with a couple of other books that address her career and her context.

I Spy

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Cover of Neighbors Cover of Neighbors


Cover of Free to Be – You and Me Cover of Free to Be – You and Me

Free to Be – You and Me

Cover of Roots Cover of Roots


A Woman Called Moses

Bustin’ Loose

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All

Cover of Hoodlum Cover of Hoodlum


Cover of The Rosa Parks Story Cover of The Rosa Parks Story

The Rosa Parks Story

Madea’s Family Reunion

Diary of a Mad Black Woman

Why Did I Get Married Too

The Help


Alex Cross


The Haunting in Connecticut 2

The Trip to Bountiful

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise


Showing Roots

The Women of Brewster Place

Cover of Last Flag Flying Cover of Last Flag Flying

Last Flag Flying

In the Shadow of the Great White Way

Cover of How it Feels to be Free Cover of How it Feels to be Free

How it Feels to be Free

Cover of Dark Girls Cover of Dark Girls

Dark Girls

Cover of Hollywood Black Cover of Hollywood Black

Hollywood Black

Cover of African American Biographies Cover of African American Biographies

African American Biographies

Cover of Jewel Cover of Jewel


hoopla Video

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