Cicely Tyson best known for her Emmy-winning television movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and her Academy-nominated turn in 1972 film “Sounder”.
The veteran actress acting career spanned seven decades and often tackled issues of racism and social justice. The cause of her death is yet to be made public.
“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon,” manager Larry Thompson said in a statement to AFP.
“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” Thompson wrote.
Tyson was known for turning down roles that reinforced negative Black images like maids or prostitutes. She’s last seen in action in last year small-screen thriller “How to Get Away with Murder.”
She was highly decorated in her career with multiple Emmy Awards, Outer Critics Award and a Tony Award for “The Trip to Bountiful”, and in 2018, at the age of 93, she was granted an honorary Oscar for her life-long work as an icon for two generations of African American actresses.
“She’s a queen to us, Afro-Americans,” the actor and producer Tyler Perry said at the glitzy Hollywood ceremony.
“She had to work ten times harder to be paid a hundred times less because she was a black woman,” Perry added.
The composer Quincy Jones, in an emotional tribute, said: “Tyson “opened the door” for Black actresses from Angela Bassett to Lupita Nyong’o”.
Born in Harlem, New York to Caribbean immigrant parents, Tyson began her career as a fashion model before moving to acting.
She won Emmys for “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” in which she played a 110-year-old woman in the Civil Rights Era reflecting on a life dating back to slavery times, and for “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.”
She played other legendary Black female historical figures, including Harriet Tubman and Coretta Scott King, the activist wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Trailblazer is not a sufficient description. What a legendary artist, sage and matriarch. We salute her. Rest in power, Lady Cicely,” tweeted the Martin Luther King Jr Center on Thursday.
Tyson’s memoir, “Just as I Am: A Memoir” had just been published on Tuesday.
“Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life,” wrote manager Thompson.
“Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree,” Thompson added.
Tyson was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2018.