Actress Honored In New York City For Her Life’s Work
Veteran actress Cicely Tyson channeled the character that made her a household name as she accepted the NAACP’s lifetime achievement award.
“I want you to all know and to understand, that life for me, ain’t been no Christmas Day,” said Tyson, who changed her voice to a gravelly tone to get into her iconic character, Miss Jane Pittman. “It had its walls torn up. It had places with no carpet on the floor – just bare.”
“But all the time born, I’m climbing on…I’m asking you all don’t set out on the steps cause you find this kind of hard. Cause I’m still going honey, I’m still trying, and life for me, ain’t been no Christmas Day.”
The Harlem-born nonagenarian received the James E. Allen Lifetime Achievement Award Oct. 6 at the NAACP New York State Conference’s annual gala, in front of an audience that included Gov. Andrew Cuomo, NAACP head Cornell Brooks, National Urban League CEO Marc Morial, the Hon. J. Machelle Sweeting and host Phylicia Rashad.
Tyson, who stunned in a B. Michael black mermaid gown, looked like a woman half her 91 years as she spoke about her work to battle systemic racism during her more than 70 year career.
“I made the conscious decision that I could not afford the luxury of just being an actress,” she said, “when I was asked questions that had to do with us as less than human, when I was told that we could not do certain things because of the color of our skin.”
But the actress, who was once married to Miles Davis, was sure to give as much praise as she got, lauding the state’s civil rights organization for its support.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am to stand here at this moment in time, accepting this award from the NAACP,” Tyson added. “I have been with them and they have been with me from the inception of my career…without your support I would never be here.”
The night also honored Vicki Fuller, the head of the New York State Common Retirement Fund 1199SEIU union head George Gresham.
Hit the flip for more pics from the night honoring black excellence: