Cicley Tyson (277821)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

The late Cicely Tyson is being remembered for her impactful film, theater and television roles and the many awards she won. She also has had a lasting impact on East Orange, N.J.

In 1995, the East Orange Board of Education moved to rename Vernon L. Davey Junior High School located on Elmwood Ave to Cicely Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts. Tyson, who is not from East Orange and grew up in Harlem, accepted the offer on the condition that she could participate in school decisions, meetings, graduations and other events.

Tyson was famously known for her “master classes,” where she held school assemblies and invited special guests such as Maya Angelou, Tyler Perry, Mary Alice, Rosa Parks, Wynton Marsalis, Derrick Luke and Judith Jamison.

“Cicely Tyson was the finest example of elegance, honor, grace and humility,” said East Orange Mayor Ted Green. “She will always be remembered for living her life boldly and uncompromisingly. Her spirit of love and compassion is one that she selflessly shared with all of us here in East Orange and we are forever honored to have been a part of her extraordinary life.”

In 2009, Tyson visited East Orange for the dedication of the new $143 million, state-of-the-art facility, which was rebuilt at 35 Winans Street to replace the former building on Elmwood Avenue. The school houses students from grades pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and includes four buildings, two theaters and a TV studio.

“To have been in the presence of Ms. Cicely L. Tyson has been a privilege,” East Orange Schools District officials said in a statement. “To have formed a relationship with her has been an even greater blessing. We will miss more than ever Ms. Tyson’s light and her physical presence but her light will never dim and her legacy will live on in the East Orange School District.”