Today the world mourns the passing of Cicely Tyson. As much an activist as she was an actress, over seven decades in Hollywood, Tyson broke down many barriers as a Black woman. Thankfully, she is one of the few who was given her flowers right until the end.
From disruptive roles to groundbreaking firsts, Tyson achieved a great deal in her 96 years — 70 of which she spent on stage and on screens, big and small. Here’s a look at some of her most memorable honors and awards.
Twelve years after her first acting role, Tyson became the first African American to star in a television drama when she joined the series East Side/West Side.
Tyson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her role in Sounder.
For her titular role in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Tyson won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, an Emmy Award for Actress of the Year, and she was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Among the many awards the miniseries Roots received, Tyson was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Series. This same year, she was also inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.
In the 1978 miniseries King, Tyson portrayed Coretta Scott King and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series.
For her leading role in The Marva Collins Story, Tyson received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special and was once again nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie.
Tyson took home another Emmy in 1994 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special for her role as Castalia in Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
A magnet school in East Orange, NJ, became known as The Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts in her honor.
At 89 years old, Tyson became a Tony Award-winner. For her part in the Broadway production “A Trip to Bountiful,” she was named Best Actress in a Play.
During her five years as Ophelia Harkness on How to Get Away with Murder, Tyson was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series, a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Tyson was named one of the prestigious Kennedy Center honorees alongside singer-songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress and singer Rita Moreno, and conductor Seiji Ozawa.
Former U.S. president Barack Obama presented Tyson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the nation.
At the 90th Academy Awards ceremony, Tyson became the first Black woman to ever receive an honorary Oscar at 93 years old.
One year ago today, Tyson was inducted into the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame at 95.
“Just As I Am,” Tyson’s first and only memoir, was published two days before she died.