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Arts
0000017a-3d7a-d913-abfe-bd7efb130001 February is Black History Month and this month, KVCR is celebrating extraordinary black female artists throughout history. We’re featuring women who were pioneers in music and film, women who have overcome adversity and used their talents to inspire millions around the world, creating a lasting legacy. We’ll also feature local stories that are observing Black History Month through art, culture, and more.

Celebrating Black History: Cicely Tyson

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Last month, we lost an iconic actress, Cicely Tyson, who spent most of her 96 years portraying strong black women across television, film, and the stage. KVCR’s Shareen Awad shares more about Cicely Tyson’s accomplishments and the impact she made.

Cicely Tyson was an American actress and model, whose career spanned over 70 years. Cicely passed away this January at the age of 96, leaving behind a legacy. Born and raised in Harlem, Tyson was first discovered by a fashion editor for Ebony Magazine. That led to her first acting role in the 1951 series Frontiers of Faith. She then went on to play a leading role in East Side/West Side, making history as the first African American to star in a television drama. From there, she became a pioneer in film, portraying strong black women on the screen. She rose to fame in the 1970s, and was very selective in choosing roles with purpose, that shattered stereotypes and told important stories.

In 1972, she played Rebecca Morgan in the movie Sounder, a leading role which launched her into stardom. It’s a story of perseverance and hope, depicting the struggles of day to day life for black families in the 1930s, a perspective that was not widely shown in film at the time.

Tyson’s powerful performance in Sounder earned her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress. She continued to play groundbreaking roles that inspired many black actresses who would follow in her footsteps.

In the 1977 TV miniseries “Roots,” she played Binta, mother of Kunta Kinte, played by LeVar Burton. She also portrayed Harriet Tubman in A Woman Called Moses and Coretta Scott King in “King”.

Cicely Tyson committed to these characters and was a trailblazer who opened doors for black women in entertainment. 

Former President Barack Obama awarded Tyson the Presidential Medal of Freedom considered the highest civilian honor.

We remember the legacy that Cicely Tyson left behind and celebrate her illustrious career.