Sociologist, educator, and civil rights activist Cyril DeGrasse Tyson passed away at the age of 89. New York City urban social policy pioneer Cyril DeGrasse Tyson, who committed his life to the advancement of civil rights for all people, passed away on Thursday, December 29, 2016, at his home in North Salem, New York. He was 89.
Sunchita Feliciano Tyson, Mr. Tyson’s wife of 64 years, revealed that he passed away due to complications from several strokes.
Mr. Tyson worked in several New York City government departments in the late 1960s, a time of severe instability in the nation’s metropolitan centers, that gave voice to populations that would become the flashpoints of disturbance in many other cities. Under Mayor John V. Lindsay, she served as the deputy administrator of the Human Resources Administration and the commissioner of the Manpower and Career Development Agency.
Together with baseball legend Jackie Robinson, Tuskegee Airman Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr., and businessman J.L. “Red” Powers, Tyson formed the March on Washington in 1963. In order to improve the social and economic role models and possibilities available to minorities, “One Hundred Black Men Inc.” was founded fifty years ago by Bruce Llewellyn, city and civil rights activist Robert J. Mangum, and the future mayor of New York City, David Dinkins.
Next, Mr. Tyson directed the United Community Corporation in Newark, N.J., where he oversaw the distribution of federal and local grants on behalf of the city’s Office of Economic Opportunity. In 1967, he participated in a study mission organized by the American Jewish Committee to observe Israel’s efforts to integrate its different communities, from European Jews to Bedouin tribesmen to Jews of the African Mellah, into the country’s culture, school system, and workforce.
Mr. Tyson was a member of the inaugural class of appointed Fellows at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1970, where he conducted research and taught courses on urban manpower-development methods with the future president, Gerald Ford.
Mr. Tyson founded the management consulting firm Optimal Computer Systems in the 1970s. The firm specializes in computer program creation, research and development, and organizational analysis for commercial and public sector clients. After that, he co-directed a multi-agency workshop on technology development in Nigeria while working as vice president of public and community relations at City College of New York.
Mr. Tyson was appointed a commissioner in the Office of Black Ministry in 1976 by his eminence Terence Cardinal Cooke, Archbishop of New York, along with other prominent black Catholics in the fields of law, politics, journalism, and community activity. In addition, Mr. Tyson served on the board of the National Catholic Inter-Racial Council in the past.
Mr. Dinkins, a longtime friend and colleague, said earlier this month, “He provided hope and opportunity to those who had been disenfranchised from the American Dream for decades…and our magnificent city owes (him) the humblest of thanks.”
Son Neil deGrasse Tyson and his wife Alice Young; daughter Lynn Antipas Tyson and her husband Richard Vosburgh; six grandchildren; Lauryn Vosburgh, Stephen Tyson Jr., Rachel Tyson, Miranda Tyson, Travis Tyson, and Ricardo Vosburgh-Tyson; sister Joan Fortuné; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Read about the lives of other people who have passed away in the links below:
- Bernadine Kampschnieder Obituary: A Last Farewell to Her
- Luke Cooper Obituary: A Final Farewell to 18 Year Old Kid
We at Lee’s Funeral Home, LLC are humbled and grateful that the Tyson family has placed their trust in us to care for their loved ones in their time of need, and we are committed to doing everything we can to ease their suffering during this difficult time.
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