Family and friends gathered in East Harlem Saturday to celebrate the unveiling of Cicely Tyson Way on 101st Street and Third Avenue.
“We just wanted to really commemorate her contributions to the arts and just celebrate where she came and she lived,” Debbie Quionones, one of the organizers of the co-naming celebration, said.
What You Need To Know
- Family and friends gathered in East Harlem Saturday to celebrate the unveiling of Cicely Tyson Way on 101st Street and Third Avenue.
- Cicely Tyson, who died back in January 2021, was born in the Bronx to immigrants from the Caribbean’s Nevis and moved to Harlem at three years old
- Her career spanned over seven decades in movies, television and theater
Cicely Tyson, who died back in January 2021, was born in the Bronx to immigrants from the Caribbean’s Nevis and moved to Harlem at three years old.
Her career spanned over seven decades in movies, television and theater. The rich legacy earned Tyson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, two Emmys, a Tony Award and an honorary Academy Award.
But to those who attended, she earned the respect as a trailblazer for Black women.
“My heart is warm that so many people came out to enjoy the day,” Reginald A. Henry, Tyson’s nephew, said. “Initially my grandmother didn’t want her in show business. She called it quelbe. When my aunt finally got her first recognition and award, she said, ‘See, momma, I made it.’”
The day’s activities started with a special blessing of family members.
Elected officials and neighbors were on hand as 101st Street between Lexington and Third Avenue was blocked off to traffic.
Through performances in song, word and dance, organizers wanted to give a reflection of Tyson’s impact. An impact that neighbors say should not be forgotten.
“This is what our kids need to see, I want all schools here to come and see Cicely Tyson Way,” Evelyn Vazquez Montalvo, a longtime East Harlem resident, said.
“I have never been to any unveiling ever and to be in the one with Cicely Tyson… AMAZING,” Barbara Diaz, an East Harlem resident, said.
Many neighbors take pride in that on the very street Tyson lived on for years.
“This is the building right here. She also lived on 102nd Street,” Christopher Bell, an East Harlem historian, said.
“My impression of what she would say, she’d be thankful, she’d be humbled,” Henry said of his aunt.
For Henry and his family, they continue to be inspired not only by her worldwide reach, but by family members who are taking up the mantle to continue in her footsteps.
“I want to be an actress too, so I look up to her,” Bria Henry, Tyson’s 12-year-old great-great niece, said.
Many of the local business also provided discounts and specials in her honor.