“I think when you begin to think of yourself as having achieved something, then there’s nothing left for you to work towards. I want to believe that there is a mountain so high that I will spend my entire life striving to reach the top of it.”

That’s what actor Cicely Tyson said in her acceptance speech when she received an Honorary Academy Award in 2018. Her statement was elegant and particularly modest, given how many summits she had already reached in her seven-decade career. In addition to that Honorary Oscar, she received three Emmy Awards, four Black Reel Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Tony. But no laurels could quite do justice to this accomplished and inspirational woman’s life. 

Tyson was born to immigrant parents in 1924 East Harlem. She was an unlikely celebrity; in fact, doctors warned her family that she…

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