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- 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.
- As quoted in A New Mountain to Climb: Heroes I've Met and the Mountains They Climb Every Day (2010), by Neal McCoy, p. 72
- My parents began their married life together in a Bronx tenement before later relocating to Manhattan's East Side. The year after they wed, they welcomed my brother, Melrose, a name my father had loved since the day he spotted it on a street sign in the Bronx. Six days before Christmas in 1924, I arrived with my thumb poked in my mouth and nary a strand of hair. A year and a half later, my sister, Emily, came along to complete our family, crossing the "T" on the Tyson five.
- Just As I Am: A Memoir (2021), by Tyson, with Michelle Burford, p. 16
- The truth is, I've always been quietly proud of my real age. Why wouldn't I want to celebrate every crease in my brow, all that hard-earned wisdom that lives between the folds? If my first manager, Warren Coleman, hadn't been so insistent that I age myself down—he feared, and perhaps rightfully so, that an industry rife with female age discrimination would count me out of a lot of roles—I may have just omitted my age, rather than changing it. It's nobody's business. But when the Kennedy Center honor came around, I felt it was important to set the public record straight. Months before I learned I was to receive the award, I'd celebrated my ninetieth birthday. During the press blitzkrieg surrounding the Kennedy Center ceremony, I spoke that number aloud with nary a quake in my voice. "When were you born?" one reporter asked me. "December 19, 1924," I answered. For me, it was not a matter to be ashamed of. It was a journey to delight in.
- Just As I Am, p. 378
- …it happened because I learned that I could speak through other people. I was a very shy child. I was an observer. I would sit and observe and listen and watch people's actions in order to understand what they were. I wanted to know what prompted them to say and do the things that they did. I sucked my fingers for 12 years. I never spoke ... but I was a great observer.
- On what made her become an actress in “'Just As I Am': Cicely Tyson Reflects On Her Long Career” in NPR (2021 Jan 24)
- …I was doing a promotion for Sounder. And after the film was completed, this journalist said that he discovered a bit of bigotry in himself. But he realized that this Black boy ... [actor] Kevin Hooks calls his father Daddy. And when I asked why, he said, "That's what my son calls me." And I tell you, I was so stunned. It took me a few minutes to catch my breath in order to question whether this man thought that we were human. You know, why can't my son call his Black father Daddy, as his sons called him. And it was at that time that I decided I could not afford the luxury of just being an actress. There were certain issues I had to address and I would use my career as my platform.
- On what spurred her to become more politically and socially involved in her acting roles in “'Just As I Am': Cicely Tyson Reflects On Her Long Career” in NPR (2021 Jan 24)
- I wish people knew the Miles Davis that I knew. Really. Because you can walk into a bookstore and you see reams of books about Miles Davis. And few people who wrote those books know him. The Miles Davis that I know and knew is not the Miles Davis that you'll read about in those books. I had the good fortune to be close enough to him to have him reveal himself to me the first moment we met. It is the Miles Davis that kept me with him as long as it did. Not only was he brilliantly talented, he was brilliantly sensitive. And that is the Miles Davis that people ... don't know that he was trying to protect.
- On her marriage to Miles Davis in “'Just As I Am': Cicely Tyson Reflects On Her Long Career” in NPR (2021 Jan 24)
- Challenges make you discover things about yourself you never really knew. They are what make the instrument stretch what make you go beyond the norm
- "Book on African America Quotes Pg 178Cicely Tyson
- Just stick with it. Just stick with it. There's always a reason why you keep going in the direction you chose to go in.
- On her advice to young people beginning their careers in “'Just As I Am': Cicely Tyson Reflects On Her Long Career” in NPR (2021 Jan 24)