Cicely Tyson to Address Spring Graduates at UMES
PRINCESS ANNE, MD-April 25, 2010-Emmy award-winning actress Cicely Tyson will address some 440 graduates of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore as the keynote speaker for the 2010 spring commencement ceremony on Friday, May 21, at 10 a.m. in the William P. Hytche Athletic Center. Tickets are required for admission.
“The university is honored to present such an outstanding example of a person who uses her celebrity status and resources to give back to the community and to advance human and civil rights,” said Dr. Thelma B. Thompson, president, UMES. “Ms. Tyson, a positive role model for our students, remains true to selecting roles that portray only strong, positive images of black women.”
Tyson became the first black actress to co-star in a television drama series (“East Side/West Side”) and appeared in the long-running soap opera “The Guiding Light.” She is best known for her Emmy award-winning performances in “The Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” earned her an Emmy for Actress of the Year and an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Movie, making Tyson the first African-American actress to win the award. She also had prominent roles in the television productions of “Roots,” “King,” and the “Marva Collins Story.” Most recently, she was nominated for an Emmy for her performance in “Relative Strangers,” a Hallmark made-for-TV movie.
Tyson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Rebecca Morgan in the film “Sounder.” She is one of only seven African-American actresses to date to receive the nomination. Her most recent movie appearances include “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.”
Tyson has been honored not only for her professional career, but for her civic mindedness and her impact on civil rights. Oprah Winfrey honored Tyson at her Legends Ball. Tyson founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem with Arthur Mitchell. This past fall, marked the unveiling of the Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts in Orange, N.J. This July, the NAACP will award Tyson their highest honor, the Spingarn Medal, for outstanding and noble achievement by an American of African descent. She will become the 95th recipient of the award, joining previous medalists such as Dr. Benjamin Carson, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, baseball hall of famer Henry “Hank” Aaron, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
During her visit to UMES and the Eastern Shore, Tyson will receive several honors. She will be honored with the Doctor of Humane Letters during commencement exercises at UMES. Prior to her engagement at UMES, the City of Cambridge, Md., will proclaim May 20 as “Cicely Tyson Day” and present Tyson with the “keys to the city.” Cambridge is located in Dorchester County, the birthplace of African-American abolitionist and leader of the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman.
For more information about the UMES spring commencement, call 410-651-6669.
Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, firstname.lastname@example.org.