The announcement from the White House included this statement from President Obama on the importance of recognizing the work done by civilians to make our country better.
"The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation's highest civilian honor - it's a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better. From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way."Cicely Tyson's entire life has been the embodiment of pushing American forward. Throughout her career she has worked to promote diversity and equality in Hollywood, and to act as a positive role model for the many young people who look up to her.
"In my early years, there were a number of experiences that made me decide I could not afford the luxury of just being an actress. There were a number of issues I wanted to address. And I wanted to use my career as a platform."I don't recall the first time I noticed Cicely Tyson in a film or on TV. I suspect it was when we watching Roots as a family in 1977. Or maybe it was A Woman Called Moses in 1978. It feels like she's just always been there in many of my favorite shows and films through the years. Favorites like Fried Green Tomatoes and The Women of Brewster Place, among others.
"Whatever good I have accomplished as an actress I believe came in direct proportion to my efforts to portray black women who have made positive contributions to my heritage."Most recently I was thrilled to see her as Annalise Keating's mother in How to Get Away with Murder. She's still a brilliant actor who brings so much depth and passion to her roles.
All I know is that I have always loved her in everything I've seen about her, both on camera and in her private life. She's always struck me as someone with high principles who demands the best from herself and everyone else around her.
"I am not a quitter. I will fight until I drop. It is just a matter of having some faith in the fact that as long as you are able to draw breath in the universe, you have a chance."She takes her position as a role model for younger generations quite seriously, as you can see in this clip from the 2015 Black Girls Rock event where she was presented with a Living Legend Award. What an honor it must have been to be seated in that audience with this magnificent woman!
"The moment anyone tries to demean or degrade you in any way, you have to know how great you are. Nobody would bother to beat you down if you were not a threat."Many congratulations to the amazing Cicely Tyson on this well-deserved honor!
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