There a few things more satisfying than shutting down ignorance, and Cicely Tyson will never forget the moment she got to confront racism and turn it into a teaching moment.
With her laundry list of credits in TV, film and Broadway, Cicely is an icon with an illustrious career. If anyone doesn’t know who Cicely is, one need look no further than IMDB or Google for more than enough receipts to find out! However, it wasn’t always this way.
Back in the day, when Cicely was forging a name for herself during a time when the nation was still tightly gripped in clutches of segregation, she often faced prejudice. During her session on “Oprah’s Master Class,” Cicely recalled a moment when someone mistakenly thought she was a maid. The irony here is that she was on the way to an interview about her career.
“I came in with my raincoat and a couple of other things, and I went to the check booth,” Cicely said in the clip. “She took one look at me and said, ‘Oh, we don’t take these here, you have to go around the back.’”
Cicely didn’t just let the assumption about her slide, the actress simply smiled and reminded the attendant of her position. While Cicely could have opted to continue on for a nasty read, she reminded the other woman that it might be best to think twice before making an incorrect assumption about someone just because of the way they look. “I said, ‘Excuse me, but I was not going to ask you to take my coat and check it, which is your job,’” Cicely recalled. “‘I simply was going to ask direction. But I will take this moment to let you know, just in case you don’t, that every one of us that look like me are not all in a position of servitude.’”
Ciciely didn’t want special treatment “I don’t look for anything or ask for anything other than to be treated like a human being. That’s all.”