NEW YORK – Cicely Tyson was active to the end, in the middle of promoting her memoir “Just As I Am” when she died at age 96.
Published earlier this week, “Just As I Am” was No. 1 on Amazon.com within hours of the groundbreaking actor's death Thursday, displacing a bound edition of Amanda Gorman's inauguration poem “The Hill We Climb.” One of Tyson's final tweets was a tribute to the 22-year-old poet.
“Your words remind us that we will rise, rebuild, reconcile and recover. Thank you for your words and light,” Tyson tweeted Wednesday.
Many media outlets this week had been celebrating Tyson and her memoir. “CBS This Morning” put online its week-old interview with Tyson, in which she was asked what she wanted the world to remember about her. “I’ve done my best. That’s all,” she told Gayle King.
King was emotional Friday talking about Tyson. “I just can’t express my feelings today,” King said. Of the interview, she added: “It takes on a totally different meaning. I’m now just analyzing everything she said.”
In what producers said was her last TV interview, Tyson spoke to “Live With Kelly and Ryan” about her shy childhood and landing her Oscar-nominated role in “Sounders.”
"I never really worked for money,” she explained. “I’ve worked because there were certain issues that I wish were addressed about myself and my race as a Black woman.”
Tyson's book — broken into three sections, Planted, Rooted and Bountiful — became a parting gift to fans and chronicles a woman who went from selling shopping bags on the streets of Harlem to being cheered by presidents, winning Emmy and Tony awards and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom..
In the days before her death, Tyson was also a guest on The Bakari Sellers Podcast, where she talked about her acting choices, injustices and her marriage to late jazz great Miles Davis. She told Sellers that she wrote the book because everyone knew the glittery and successful version of herself but “no one knows Cicley Tyson, the person down here.”
In a People magazine story running this week, she said, “It’s very exciting to know that you are, hopefully, making a roadway for someone else to follow." In an NPR interview, Tyson said she came to acting so that she “could speak through other people,” after being naturally drawn to observing other people as a shy child. Her advice? “Just stick with it. There’s always a reason why you keep going in the direction you chose to go in.”