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Cicely Tyson’s death comes days after her memoir was released. These are the book’s most poignant moments - USA TODAY

4 weeks ago 21
Anika Reed   | USA TODAY

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Cutting into a histrion reveals its interior rings, which archer a communicative of the tree's existence, however it grew and what happened astir it. Cicely Tyson's new publication cuts into her histrion of life – and the legendary actress showcases the rings of her seven-decade long vocation successful her archetypal memoir, “Just As I Am.”

It would besides crook retired to beryllium her past memoir: Just 2 days aft the book's publication, Tyson died Jan. 28 astatine 96. The publication she near down is simply a parting acquisition to readers and chronicles an unthinkable life, lived fully.

Her younker increasing up successful New York, beingness pre-fame and groundbreaking enactment span 400 pages successful the publication (HarperCollins, retired now), written with collaborator Michelle Burford and breached into 3 sections: Planted, Rooted and Bountiful.

More: Legendary histrion Cicely Tyson, who trailblazed successful TV and movie for much than 7 decades, dies astatine 96

Viola Davis, Tyson's onscreen girl Annalise Keating successful the ABC play bid "How to Get Away With Murder," pens the foreword, sharing affectional memories of her archetypal find of Tyson's enactment and however it impacted her.

The famed nonagenarian, known for her roles arsenic Rebecca successful “Sounder,” the titular quality successful "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" and Binta successful “Roots,” weaves unneurotic puerility memories and career highlights with musings astir the authorities of the satellite contiguous – making it wide that though overmuch has changed, overmuch besides hasn’t.

Tyson's substance is affluent with lived history, arsenic good arsenic humanities notes that supply discourse to past and existent unrest and radical strife. Being calved to West Indian parents (both from Nevis) successful New York, dealing with the ramifications of being Black, having her parents abstracted during her childhood and birthing a babe miss astatine 17 acceptable the signifier for bringing to beingness her signifier of activism done art.

Tyson raised her daughter, whom she calls “Joan” successful the book, mostly retired of the spotlight, though she describes her daughter’s commencement and upbringing (and the mode her vocation affected her lone child) successful detail. Tyson said she and her girl “continue to enactment connected our relationship, arsenic fragile arsenic it is precious,” and she dedicated the publication to her: “the 1 who has paid the top terms for this acquisition to all.”

We've rounded up the book's astir poignant moments, including stories astir chap Black trailblazers and her activistic work.

Cicely Tyson dies astatine 96: Zendaya, Shonda Rhimes and much mourn 'the top to ever bash it'

Tyson shares activism done art

Tyson begins the book's 2nd enactment with a punctuation from Charles C. Seifert: "A contention without the cognition of its past is similar a histrion without roots."

Her roles arsenic nuanced Black women are infused with the enactment of taking up space, changing the communicative and giving humanity backmost to Black communities successful the aforesaid manufacture wherever it is simultaneously denied successful different pieces of art. "As a people, we've done what we've had to bash to survive, and alternatively than consciousness ashamed of it, we should observe it."

Tyson besides shares stories of utilizing her level to wage it forward, including the late-night ideation of opening the Dance Theatre of Harlem with Arthur Mitchell and Brock Peters oregon the telephone calls that sparked the Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts successful New Jersey.

More: TCM honors Cicely Tyson with manus and footprint ceremony

She reveals an battle aboriginal successful her career

As she began to act, Tyson didn't privation to trust conscionable connected her affectional talents – she wanted the skills to backmost it up. Tyson wanted actor/director Lloyd Richards of Paul Mann Actor's Workshop to thatch her the creation down acting. But an battle threatened to derail her vocation earlier it began. 

In bid to instrumentality classes and get mentorship from Richards, Tyson had to spell done Mann's acting workshop. At an archetypal gathering with Mann, Tyson recounts that helium "rose from his table and walked implicit to unopen his door. I stood, arsenic did each hairsbreadth connected my neck."

Tyson continues: "Paul, a menacing operation of flesh, thrust himself toward maine and began manhandling my breasts, attempting to region my blouse arsenic I shoved him away. 'No!' I yelled. 'Get disconnected of me!' He tried to jam maine against the partition and shove his manus nether my camisole, but I someway managed to interruption free." 

Tyson writes she was capable to flight the encounter, but that she inactive had to interact with Mann arsenic she took his acting workshop. "Life is choices, and arsenic I saw it, I had two. I could've fled from that man's bureau and ne'er returned. Many, understandably, mightiness person chosen that route. … I had arrived astatine that workplace with the singular intent of grooming with Lloyd. And though Paul, successful a amusement of breathless lasciviousness, had attempted to thwart my mission, I was not to beryllium deterred." Mann was aboriginal recovered guilty in a civilian suit of harassing different women from his acting workshop 

Her career connected her to theater, Hollywood greats (plus her famous godchildren)

Maya Angelou. Oprah Winfrey. James Earl Jones. Sidney Poitier. Diahann Carroll. Viola Davis. Tyler Perry. All Black pioneers of the screen, signifier and page, and each were adjacent friends of Tyson.

Tyson shares idiosyncratic details of her yearslong friendships with manufacture veterans: Angelou, the hostess who didn't request a peculiar juncture "to propulsion retired her finest cutlery and Baccarat crystal"; "painfully shy" Jones; her gossip sessions astatine New York Italian eatery Sardi's and her laughs with Carroll; Perry paying her “double … adjacent triple oregon quadruple” connected projects erstwhile helium heard however underpaid she was for her landmark roles; and her "cherished sisterhood" with Winfrey. She besides goes "way back" with Frank Sinatra and recalled a ineligible "dust-up" with Elizabeth Taylor.  

Tyson's friendships passim her signifier and surface endeavors resulted successful immoderate arsenic illustrious godchildren. For instance, you whitethorn person heard of rockstar Lenny Kravitz, different known arsenic Tyson's godson acknowledgment to her relationship with Kravitz's ma and "The Jeffersons" prima Roxie Roker. Tyson was besides a godparent to Denzel Washington's daughter, Katia, and Perry's son, Aman.

Cicely Tyson: At last, the legendary histrion receives an (honorary) Oscar astatine 93

Her romance with Miles Davis spanned 2 decades

Not lone did Tyson signifier friendships with aboriginal icons, but she besides formed a narration with legendary jazz instrumentalist and maestro trumpeter Miles Davis that lasted connected and disconnected for much than 20 years. 

The 2 initially connected successful 1965 aft a accidental gathering successful Riverside Park, though Davis' struggles with addiction and infidelity yet drove them apart. They had different romances implicit the years, but Davis and Tyson reunited years aboriginal successful their 50s, marrying astatine Bill Cosby's location connected Thanksgiving Day successful 1981. 

At the commencement of their marriage, Tyson nursed Davis backmost to wellness after years of cause usage had negatively affected his captious organs. But erstwhile Davis' spot improved, Tyson writes, helium "resumed the cycle" of drugs and adultery that archetypal divided them up. An ongoing tryst betwixt Davis and a pistillate successful their New York flat gathering – which led to a carnal altercation betwixt Tyson and the different pistillate – proved excessively overmuch for the relationship, and Tyson filed for divorce. Of their relationship, Tyson insists: "I loved Miles and helium loved me."

She didn't uncover her existent property until she was 90

It wasn't until recently, astatine the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors ceremonial wherever Tyson received designation for her contributions to the performing arts, that she revealed her existent age. "For decades up to then, folks had been trying, and mostly failing, to conjecture however aged I was," she writes, adding that she turned 90 successful the months earlier the event. 

When Tyson began her acting career, astatine the proposal of her then-manager Warren Coleman, she said she was 20 alternatively of 30. The alteration successful property stuck passim her career, with galore reasoning she was a afloat decennary younger than she really was. "The information is, I've ever been softly arrogant of my existent age. … But erstwhile the Kennedy Center grant came around, I felt it was important to astatine past acceptable the grounds straight," she writes alongside her birthdate: Dec. 19, 1924.

More: Cicely Tyson's elephantine chapeau turns heads astatine Aretha Franklin's funeral

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