Cicely Tyson Honored with Street Renaming

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Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

On Saturday, East 101st Street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues was renamed after award-winning actress and East Harlem native Cicely Tyson.

The New York City Council approved the street naming last summer, and the renaming initiative was spearheaded by the Honorable Diana Ayala, New York City Council deputy speaker; Taina Traverso; Nina M Saxon, and Deborah Quinones, who cofounded the Cicely Tyson Street Renaming and Landmark Committee. 

The committee was able to gather dozens of signatures for its petition, including political analyst Donna Brazile, El Museo del Barrio, El Barrio’s Artspace PS 109, Landmark East Harlem, and the New York Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., where Tyson was an honorary member.

Tyson was born in 1924 to parents from the Caribbean island Nevis; she was raised at 178 East 101st Street, a five-story walk-up between Lexington and 3rd Avenue. She garnered acclaim on the stage and screen, appearing in beloved films and television programs like Roots, Sounder, The Autobiography of Jane Pittman, Fried Green Tomatoes, and How to Get Away with Murder

Having earned three Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, several NAACP Image Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, Tyson was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors lifetime achievement award in 2015, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (by President Barack Obama) in 2016, and an Honorary Academy Award in 2018. 

Throughout her life, she shared her love and pride for her Harlem roots and considered herself a neighborhood ambassador. 

Tyson died in January 2021 at the age of 96, and the organizers hope that this street renaming will serve as a "community marker that will forever recognize her as a daughter of East Harlem who changed the world."

Photo by Allen Ashby
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