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Hundreds Pay Tribute To Cicely Tyson In Harlem

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On Monday, a public viewing was being held at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, where Tyson was a member. CBS2's John Dias reports.

Video Transcript

KRISTINE JOHNSON: Now back here locally, a public viewing is right now being held at the Abyssinian Baptist Church for actress Cicely Tyson.

MAURICE DUBOIS: Hundreds of people are paying their final respects. CBS 2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas is there.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Hours before the doors of Abyssinian Baptist Church opened--

REBECCA RICHWINE: It was important for us to be here. I would have stand here in the rain, the snow. The weather doesn't matter.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: --a line had already extended around the block to bid Cicely Tyson a fond farewell.

ERIC HENTON: As soon as I heard about it, I went ahead and booked my flight. And I said to myself, there's no way I'm missing it. Because, you know, I dreamed one day of meeting her, maybe getting a photo, just to shake her hand, but it didn't happen.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Tyson died on January 28th at 96 years old. Her casket, gingerly rolled past gates, adorned with purple bows, the color of royalty, as pallbearers prepared for the public viewing.

- She showed dignity and regalness. She showed to stand by what you believe in.

CICELY TYSON: You got you a lowlife job, Mr Sheriff.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Tyson's first leading roles as a Black woman in the 1970s in itself was a revolution. But her gift transcended color lines, captivating audiences for decades, while intentionally conveying the humanity and depth of the African-American experience with each role.

- She was uncompromising and who she was, and she refused to settle

KEVIN NESBITT: Picked roles that not only had a cultural significance, that really spoke to us as a people.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Activism that gave her unique staying power. Yet, despite her awards and critical acclaim, Tyson never abandoned her Harlem roots. So it's fitting the community that loved and shaped her--

- We love Cicely.

- Yes.

- We're gonna miss her.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: --is also the place where she takes her final bow. The public viewing ends at 6 o'clock. That's followed by a private memorial service scheduled for Tuesday that's by invitation only. In Harlem, Andrea Cline-Thomas, CBS 2 News.

MAURICE DUBOIS: Cicely Tyson's memoir, "Just as I Am" was released just days before she died. And one of her final interviews, "CBS This Morning's" Gayle King asked her how she wanted to be remembered, and Tyson replied, "I done my best."

KRISTINE JOHNSON: Yes.

MAURICE DUBOIS: Certainly did.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: She did, and everyone realizes that and they remember that here today.