Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Am Not a Quitter

"I am not a quitter. I will fight until I drop. It is just a matter of having some faith in the fact that as long as you are able to draw breath in the universe, you have a chance."  
Cicely Tyson

On August 10, 2011, Cicely Tyson, American model and actress noted for her vivid portrayals of strong African American women, was announced to be a 2011 Freedom award winner for Tyson was selected for her contributions to the arts. Danny Glover was also selected for his contributions in the realm of activism. Other special awards were also given to seven icons of the American civil rights movement: the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. C. T. Vivian, John Seigenthaler, Dolores Huerta, the Rev. James Lawson, the Rev. Samuel Kyles and the Rev. Ed King.

Cicely Tyson is the daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean island of Nevis and grew up in a devoutly religious household in Harlem. Discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine, she quickly rose to the top of the modeling world. In 1957 she began acting in Off-Broadway productions. She had minor roles in a few feature films before her role as Portia in the film version of Carson McCuller's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968).

Because she was committed to presenting only positive images of black women, Tyson did not have steady work in film and television. Her next notable role was as Rebecca Morgan in the popular and critically acclaimed film Sounder(1972), for which she received an Academy Award nomination for best actress. In 1974 she appeared in perhaps her best-known role, that of the title character in the television drama The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Her performance as the 110-year-old former slave whose life is depicted up through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s won Tyson two Emmy Awards. Tyson took on supporting roles in the television miniseries Roots (1977) and The Women of Brewster Place (1989) and also in the film Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). She had a starring role in Hoodlum (1997).  Most recently she appeared in Why Did I Get Married Too and also in, The Help which premiered in August 2011.

Tyson was honoured by the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the National Council of Negro Women. In 1977 she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

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