*Cicely Tyson, the beloved and pioneering Black actress whose career spanned more than six decades, died Thursday at age 96.
The passing of the Hollywood star was announced by her family, via her manager Larry Thompson, per The Associated Press.
“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy,” according to a statement issued through Thompson. He did not immediately provide additional details.
“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” Thompson said in a statement Thursday. “Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree.”
Tyson starred in decades-worth of film and television including the acclaimed “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” which earned her two Emmy awards. In 2018, she became the first Black woman to receive an honorary Oscar. She also earned Emmy nods for the miniseries “Roots” and “King.”
I’m devastated. My heart is just broken. I loved you so much!! You were everything to me! You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls. You gave me permission to dream… https://t.co/7V7AFZtFLa pic.twitter.com/l2TLfM4weX
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 29, 2021
In the wake of Tyson’s death on Thursday, several celebrities, politicans and influencers took to social media to pay tribute to the actress. Check out some of the reactions below.
Viola Davis, who worked with Tyson on How to Get Away With Murder wrote: “I’m devastated. My heart is just broken. I loved you so much!! You were everything to me! You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls. You gave me permission to dream….because it was only in my dreams that I could see the possibilities in myself. I’m not ready for you to be my angel yet. But…I also understand that it’s only when the last person who has a memory of you dies, that you’ll truly be dead. In that case, you will be immortal. Thank you for shifting my life. Thank you for the long talks. Thank you for loving me. Rest well.”
Former President Barack Obama, who awarded Tyson with the Medal of Freedom during his presidency, wrote, “In her extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson was one of the rare award-winning actors whose work on the screen was surpassed only by what she was able to accomplish off of it. She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years, she left a mark on the world that few will ever match.”
Michelle Obama wrote, “What struck me every time I spent time with Cicely Tyson was not necessarily her star power—though that was evident enough—it was her humanity. Just by walking into a room, she had this way of elevating everyone around her.”
Tyler Perry said the news of Tyson’s death “brought me to my knees!” “She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup. My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next,” he wrote. ” She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence.”
Tyler Perry’s tribute to Cicely Tyson has me sad all over again pic.twitter.com/YmjEjKe0ao
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 29, 2021
Of Tyson, Oprah Winfrey wrote, “She used her career to illuminate the humanity of Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised. Her life so fully lived is a testimony to Greatness.”
Ava DuVernay shared on Instagram: “Your hugs I’ll remember. How your petite arms wrapped around me like mighty branches of a sunlit tree, strong and warm. Your laugh I’ll remember. How it came easily and heartily and sounded like good music. Your work I’ll remember. How your brave portrayals transformed the way the world witnessed Black women, whether they could accept what you shared or not. Your words I’ll remember. How each time I hung up the phone, I’d write them down so as not forget the precious jewels of encouragement and wisdom you’d gifted me. Your love I’ll remember. You loved me for some reason. You told me so often. I thank you for that forever and I’ll carry your love with me as I go. Bless you on your journey ahead, Your Majesty. Until we meet again.”
Angela Bassett also wrote on IG: “Ms. Tyson, we are infinitely grateful for every day that God gave you to us. For all of us little black and brown girls who dared to dream big and bold that we, too, deserved to be seen, heard, and loved, both on the screen and off. Rest in Power, my sweet, beautiful QUEEN,” she wrote.
“Today, the world lost a legend, an activist and a groundbreaking actress, Cicely Tyson,” NAACP President and CEO, Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “She was an idol to 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. Rest in Power.”