Before We Remember: For Cicely

It is with sadness that we announce the passing of icon and legend, Cicely Tyson. With the yearly theme of 28 DAYS OF BLACKNESS to begin in a matter of days, it doesn’t feel right to not celebrate her life right now. And I mean, right now. How can you say good-bye to a legend–when the legend has your face? -JBHarris

Cicely Tyson Dead: Pioneering Hollywood Icon Dies at 96 - Variety

Before I ever knew the demand that writing would have, or where it would take my life, I knew who Cicely Tyson was. I remember watching the classic The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, wanting to know this woman was. I remember her with Miles Davis-yes, THAT Miles Davis! I remember her in Sounder, Fried Green Tomatoes and she–much like my sheroes Dorothy Dandridge and Dihann Caroll–had this presence that I wanted. Not only that I wanted, but I wanted to emulate!

She was petite, she was Black, and she was so talented. Oh so talented.

I know the younger Torches will remember her for being the latest Tyler Perry movies, and How To Get Away With Murder, and perhaps that is what happens to legends–they never fade, they only find other avenues to be discovered.

Before her passing, she had finished her memoir. The title of it, I think, is fitting: Just As I Am. And I believe that is fitting, because that is all she ever gave us as the culture: all of her–just as she was. Whenever I would think about being in any part of the arts, it was Cicely’s face I saw. It was this mix of grace, determination and fire that I saw when I looked at her! In being transparent, I knew who she was before I ever new Dorothy Dandridge existed!

What made Cicely so amazing was her willingness to completely committed to anything that she did. Cicely didn’t have to run in and be the thunder room, but you knew that thunder was in the room when she showed up in it!

There are certain intangible things that come with this concept of presence. This acknowledgement in the part of yourself that understands and recognizes energies and what they bring. Cicely has–had–presence. She had that power to draw you in, hold you tight, and make your hear every last part of everything she had to say. Even speaking of her in past tense is hard, yet giving the world 96 years of her–feels right that she be able to leave it knowing just how deeply she was loved.

How deeply she was respected.

Seeing and overseeing the next generation of actors whom would come after her–including the Academy Award-winning Viola Davis.

Queens always leave an inheritance to those they love–and we are, this is, no different. We can find Cicely wherever we need her. We only need Google.

Good night, Ms. Tyson. Thank you.

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