Virgil Abloh, the Off-White founder who revolutionized modern collaboration with Nike, Jordan as well as Louis Vuitton’s artistic director, has died of cancer. He was 41.
Word spread early Sunday about the passing of fashion icon Virgil Abloh. The founder of the Off-White fashion house and artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, Abloh prioritized innovative.
As reported by Bossip, the Off-White founder battled a rare and aggressive cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma.
While death is inevitably a part of life, that truth doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to those who have died. Keep reading to learn more about the notable Black lives that we’ve lost in 2021.
Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks Who We’ve Lost In 2021 was originally published on newsone.com
1. Jacqueline Avant, Wife Of ‘Black Godfather’ Clarence Avant,
Jacqueline Avant, the wife of music legend and impresario Clarence Avant, was shot and killed in a home invasion robbery on Tuesday (November 30). She was 81.
2. Lee Elder, professional golfer, 87
Former golf legend Lee Elder died at the age of 87. In 1975, he became the first black player to ever play in golf’s most prestigious tournament, The Masters.
The Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club made an announcement that Elder will be honored by establishing scholarships in his name and inviting him to be an Honorary Starter for the 2021 Masters as seen during Practice Round 2 for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in 2020.
3. Antwain Fowler, internet celebrity, 6
Viral internet sensation Antwain Folwer died at the age of 6-years-old. Although cause of death was not immediately reported, according to TMZ, Fowler’s death may have been related to autoimmune enteropathy, the illness which the young boy had been struggling with for most of his life.
Antwain became an internet celebrity after a video showed the young boy sitting in the backseat of a car asking his mother, “Where we ’bout to eat at?’”
A GoFundMe account updated recently said that Antwain was diagnosed with auto-immune enterapothy in 2015 and has undergone more than 25 surgeries since that time. His condition left him “unable to drink milk, or eat solid foods during his earlier childhood,” the GoFundMe said in part.
4. Young Dolph, rapper, 36
Young Dolph, was shot and killed in his hometown of Memphis during an apparent ambush by two gunmen while patronizing one of. his favorite local Black-owned bakery.
According to NewsOne, “The tragic shooting was among the latest instances of deadly gun violence in Memphis, which has already eclipsed the number of homicides in the city from last year and is on pace to set a new record this year.”
The photo is of Young Dolph performing during Rolling Loud New York 2021 at Citi Field on October 30, 2021 in New York City.
5. Colin Powell
General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, slautes during the Sunset Ceremony for Pearl Harbor survivors at t he Arizona Memorial Visitores Center. The ceremony is part of day-long observances commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (Photo by: HUM Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) color image,photography,horizontal,usa,1990-1999,human interest,chairperson,joint chiefs of staff,survival,general – military rank,colin powell – politician,chairman of the joint chiefs of staff
6. W. Sterling Cary, first African American to lead National Council of Churches, 94
“W. Sterling Cary, a minister who became the first African American to lead the National Council of Churches and who used his pulpit for decades in pursuit of racial and social justice, died Nov. 14 at his home in Flossmoor, Ill. He was 94.”
7. Ronnie Wilson, Gap Band co-founder, 73
Ronnie Wilson, the older brother of “Uncle” Charlie Wilson as well as a co-founder and one-third of the legendary Gap Band, has died. Wilson passed away at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Nov. 2. His wife, Linda Boulware-Wilson, said her husband died peacefully as he held her hand before he drew his final breath. He was 73 years old.
8. Jovita Moore, broadcast TV news anchor, 53
Jovita Moore, an award-winning TV journalist based in Atlanta, died overnight on Oct. 28 following complications from brain cancer. The 53-year-old anchor with Channel 2 Action News had been diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year.
9. Melvin van Peebles, filmmaker and movie director, 89
Melvin van Peebles, the iconic filmmaker and movie director whose groundbreaking work like “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” went on to become cult classics, especially in the Black community, died on Sept. 21. He was 89 years old.
Widely recognized as the father of Black American Film for such notable contributions as “Watermelon Man,” the artist who became known for being unafraid to cross boundaries, disciplines and traditions in his work was also celebrated for his musical, “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural,” for which he wrote the music and lyrics as well as an accompanying book of the same name.
10. Agnes Tirop, Olympic long distance runner, 25
Kenyan Olympic long-distance runner Agnes Jebet Tirop was found dead in her home on Oct. 15 in an apparent murder. The 25-year-old world-class athlete was found with stab wounds to her neck and abdomen. Tirop’s husband, Ibrahim Rotich, who is also a world-class long-distance runner, was arrested in Kenya on murder charges in the grisly killing.
She won bronze medals in the 2017 and 2019 women’s 10,000 meters world championships races and came in at fourth place at this past summer’s Tokyo Olympics in the 5,000 meters race. Tirop also last month broke the world record for a women’s 10K race in Germany
11. Anthony “A.J.” Johnson, comedian and actor, 56
Actor and comedian Anthony “A.J.” Johnson has died at the age of 56.
The actor who was widely known for his role on the “Friday” franchise of movies was rushed to the hospital but pronounced dead shortly after. There was no official cause of death immediately released.
12. Michael K. Williams, actor, 54
Michael K. Williams, the veteran character actor who rose to fame playing the role of Omar Little, in the award-winning drama, “The Wire,” was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on Sept. 6. He was 54.
13. Carl Bean, gay preacher, 77
Carl Bean, a gay activist who founded his own church and turned to preaching following the release of what the New York Times called “a disco song of L.G.B.T.Q. pride,” died Tuesday, Sept. 7, in Los Angeles. He was 77 years old. The cause of Bean’s death was not immediately reported.
14. Jacob Desvarieux, guitarist, 65
Jacob Desvarieux, a guitarist with the band Kassav’, died July 30 in Guadeloupe, the New York Times reported. He was 77 years old. The reported cause of his death is complications from COVID-19.
Desvarieux is credited for co-creating a musical style called zouk “by fusing Afro-Caribbean traditions of the French Antilles with sleek electronic dance music,” according to the Times.
15. Fuquan Johnson, comedian, 42
Fuquan Johnson, the Los Angeles-based comedian, died on September 5, 2021, of an overdose from a batch of cocaine laced with fentanyl while attending a gathering in Los Angeles.
16. Greg Leaks, tv personality, 66
Gregg Leakes, a former real estate investor and longtime veteran of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” reality TV series. At the age of 66, he passed away after a three-year long battle with colon cancer.
17. Chucky Thompson, music producer, 53
Chucky Thompson, an award-winning music producer who spawned chart-topping hits with some of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B, died on Aug. 9 at the age of 53.
18. Steve “Zumbi” Gaines, rapper, 49
Rapper Zumbi of the hip-hop group Zion I recently died at the age of 49.
19. Cameron Burrell, track star and Carl Lewis’ godson, 26
Cameron Burrell, a former NCAA Division I sprinter and track phenom who was the godson of legendary Olympian Carl Lewis, died Monday (Aug. 9). He was just 26 years old.
In 2017, he beat his father’s school record by beasting the 100m in 9.93 seconds. As a senior, Cameron won the 2018 NCAA Men’s 100m.
20. Bob Moses, civil rights leader, 86
Robert “Bob” Moses, a lifelong educator and civil rights leader who inspired generations of organizers, engaging with them around the importance of collective action and respecting local knowledge, died on Sunday (July 25). He was 86 years old.
“Leadership is there in the people,” Moses famously said. “You don’t have to worry about where your leaders are. . . If you go out and work with your people, then the leadership will emerge.”
21. Rachael Oniga, Nollywood actress, 64
It seemed as if all of Nigeria and by extension fans of Nollywood — Nigeria’s answer to Hollywood — were mourning Oniga’s death. Condolences poured in on social media to commemorate the life of a legendary Nigerian actress who, by IMDB’s account, had more than 110 acting credits to her name over the course of more than two decades.
Oniga went on to achieve great success in Nollywood, including in the 2013 movie, “Bello,” which also starred mainstream Hollywood performers like Isaiah Washington and Vivica A. Fox.
22. Gloria Richardson, civil rights pioneer, 99
Gloria Richardson, a civil rights pioneer whose entire legendary and defiant existence could be summed up by an iconic photo of her rolling her eyes at the very real threat of a United States military member aiming a gun and bayonet at her, died Thursday (July 15) at the age of 99. The Associated Press reportedthat her family confirmed Richardson died in her sleep of natural causes.
Richardson became the face of the civil rights movement in the 1960s on the eastern shore of Maryland, where, in Cambridge, she organized and led protests against anti-Black racism, discrimination and segregation, among other causes. Richardson was also a labor leader in her own right, leading demonstrations against low wages and unemployment.
What started as sit-ins at establishments that did not equally serve Black people — like segregated movie theaters, bowling alleys and restaurants — quickly blossomed into a much larger, broader crusade for civil rights and justice.
“She did it because it needed to be done, and she was born a leader,” Tya Young, Richardson’s granddaughter, told the Associated Press.
23. Biz Markie, hip-hop legend, 57
Biz Markie, the pioneering rap star whose hit song “Just A Friend” made him a household name in the ’90s, died on Friday (July 16) following a long battle with diabetes. He was 57 years old.
24. Charlie Robinson, actor, 75
Charlie Robinson, the ubiquitous character actor of the stage and screen who played an untold number of roles that were all memorable, including a clerk on the hit 1980s sitcom, “Night Court,” has died at the age of 75. Variety reported that Robinson died Sunday (July 11) following complications from cardiac arrest and cancer.
Robinson also played a number of other roles in cult classics, like his performance as Nate in “Set It Off,” the 1996 movie starring Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah and Vivica Fox as bank robbers. Robinson’s character famously lent Pinkett’s character money under less than favorable circumstances in order to help her brother pay for college.
Other notable performances by Robinson include roles in “Antwon Fisher,” “Sugar Hill” and “Malevolence.”
25. Suzzanne Douglas, actress, 64
Suzzanne Douglas, a stage, TV and movie actress who always played roles of strong Black women, has died, multiple news outlets reported July 8. She was 64 years old.
Perhaps known most for her performance in the sitcom “The Parent ‘Hood,” Douglas thrived in each role she played in a career that spanned nearly five decades.
Douglas also starred in multiple cult classics especially revered in the Black community, including movies like “Tap,” which starred Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr., “The Inkwell” and “Jason’s Lyric,” among others. She won an NAACP Image Award for her performance in “Tap,” which was released in theaters in 1989
26. Abdalelah Haroun, track and field star, 24
Abdalelah Haroun, a world-class track and field star who represented Qatar and was training to compete in the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, died June 26 from injuries sustained in a car crash. He was just 24 years old.
Born in Sudan, Haroun went on to represent the Mideastern state of Qatar on the world stage during his competitions, including and most notably when he won a bronze medal in the 400 meters race in the 2017 world championships.
Haroun is Qatar’s most decorated sprinter who died holding the nation’s record for the 400 meter race with a time of 44.07 set in 2018.
27. Consuewella Dotson Africa, MOVE leader, 67
Consuewella Dotson Africa, a matriarch of the MOVE Black liberation group whose headquarters was the target of a city-sponsored bombing by local law enforcement in Philadelphia decades ago, has died. Africa, the mother of two children who were killed in the 1985 bombing that eventually burned down 61 houses, killed 11 people (including three other children) and injured dozens of others, died June 16 at the age of 67.
Africa’s death was announced on MOVE’s website and confirmed by MOVE member Janine Africa.
28. Sanyika Shakur (“Monster” Kody Scott), street gang leader-turned-motivational speaker, 57
Sanyika Shakur, a former street gang leader known as “Monster” Kody Scott who reformed his life of crime as detailed in a memoir he wrote in prison that shot to the top of the New York Times Best Selling list of books, has died, HipHopWired reported.
29. Clarence Williams III, actor, 81
Clarence Williams III, the enigmatic actor who rose to fame as the character “Linc” On “The Mod Squad,” becoming a Black power icon during the ’70s, died on June 4 at the age of 81. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Williams died after a battle with colon cancer. The actor received a Tony Award nod for his role in the Broadway play “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground,” and went on to appear in a series of TV series and cult classic films over his longstanding career.
30. Samuel Wright, actor, 74
Actor Samuel E. Wright, best known for his voice work as the loveable character “Sebastian” in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” died after a three-year battle with prostate cancer according to his daughter who spoke with The Hollywood Reporter. Wright was 74.
His performance in “Under the Sea” helped earn “The Little Mermaid” win an Oscar in 1990 for Best Original Song. He also did voice work as a bunch-of-grapes character for Fruit of the Loom underwear.
31. Chi Modu, photographer, 54
Chi Modu, a celebrated hip-hop photographer whose lens captured iconic images of the genre’s elite, has died at the age of 54.
For over the last 30 years Modu captured photos of Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Diddy, Dr. Dre, Q-Tip and Mary J. Blige. As director of photography for The Source, Modu’s photos helped the magazine rise in profile with imaginative and groundbreaking covers, as Modu and the outlet grew as an authoritative voice in the genre.
32. Paul Mooney, comedian, writer, 79
Legendary comedian Paul Mooney, whose real name was Paul Gladney, passed away on May 19 at the age of 79 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Oakland, California.
The comedian is heralded as an architect of modern comedy who worked with the who’s who of Hollywood and was especially hailed by Black comedians. Mooney launched into the stratosphere of comedy in the ’70s as a writer for comedic icon Richard Pryor. He also pursued a career in acting, starring as Sam Cooke in the 1978 film “The Buddy Holly Story,” and as the character Junebug in Spike Lee’s impactful 2000 film “Bamboozled.” His cultural impact spanned over 50 years, as the head writer for the groundbreaking Black sketch show “In Living Color,” forming the memorable character Homey The Clown, and influenced comedian Dave Chappelle by creating the character Negrodamus on “Chappelle’s Show.”
33. Lee Evans, Olympic champion, 74
Olympic champion Lee Evans, who set a world record while winning the gold medal running for the 400-meter race in the infamous 1968 Summer Olympic Games, has died. Evans May 19 at a hospital in Nigeria at the age of 74, the Washington Post reported.
Evans reportedly suffered a stroke the week before he died.
Evans excelled during the height of the civil rights movement and about six months after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. While he was accepting his medal, Evans wore a black beret to match his black socks and raised his fist.
34. Frank McRae, actor and former NFL player, 80
Frank McCrae may not have been a household name, but the character actor had so many roles on TV and film that his face was seemingly ubiquitous — especially to Black folks. Unfortunately, his daughter announced his death to Variety and said he suffered a heart attack before he died last month at his home in California. He was 80 years old.
Some notable roles played by McRae, who was also an NFL player, were from movies such as the James Bond thriller, “License to Kill,” and National Lampoon’s “Vacation.”
35. Pervis Staples, singer, 85
“Pervis Staples, whose tenor voice complemented his father’s and sisters’ in the legendary gospel group The Staple Singers, has died, a spokesman announced Wednesday. He was 85.”
Pictured: The Staple Singers, including from left, Pervis, Roebuck ‘Pop’ and Mavis Staples.
36. Curtis Fuller, legendary jazz trombonist, 88
Curtis Fuller, North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague, Netherlands, 1999. Artist Brian Foskett. (Photo by National Jazz Archive/Heritage Images via Getty Images) color image,photography,people,one person,arts culture and entertainment,horizontal,musician,usa,adult,topix,portrait,music,men,history,1990-1999,black and white,jazz music,human interest,colors,music festival,musical instrument,netherlands,photograph,country and western music,20th century,the hague,black color,jazz festival,north sea jazz festival,trombonist,trombone
37. Henrietta Turnquest, pioneering Black woman politician, 73
Henrietta Turnquest, an attorney and one of the first Black women elected to the Georgia General Assembly who helped integrate the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, died on March 29 following complications from Alzheimer’s disease. She was 73 years old.
“Determination personified Henrietta Turnquest as she became an attorney, state lawmaker and community activist in her adopted home of Georgia. That, plus fearlessness and the ability to spot problems and bring coalitions together made her a trailblazer.”
38. Shock G, rapper-producer, 57
Digital Underground’s Shock G died on April 22 from unknown causes. He was 57. The eccentric and charismatic frontman rose to prominence in the 80’s and 90’s, cultivating the group’s sound to helped steer Oakland, California, as a vital ground in hip-hop. Shock G was also famously known for his persona Humpty Hump.
39. Antron Pippen, 33
Antron Pippen, the oldest son of Hal of Fame NBA champion Scottie Pippen, died April 18 at the age of 33.
Scottie Pippen wrote:
“I’m heartbroken to share that yesterday, I said goodbye to my firstborn son Antron. The two of us shared a love for basketball and we had countless conversations about the game. Antron suffered from chronic asthma and if he hadn’t had it, I truly believe he would’ve made it to the NBA. He never let that get him down, though—Antron stayed positive and worked hard, and I am so proud of the man that he became. Please keep his mom, Karen, and all of his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. A kind heart and beautiful soul gone way too soon. I love you, son, rest easy until we meet again.”
40. Black Rob, rapper, 51
“Hip-Hop has lost another great artist way too soon. Black Rob of Bad Boy Records and “Whoa” fame has passed away.
“Born Robert Ross, Black Rob aka Banco Popular aka Bacardi Rob was just 51.”
His death was announced April 17
41. Gerren Taylor, model, 30
“Baldwin Hills” star Ashley Taylor Gerren, also known as Gerren Taylor, 30, died in her sleep on April 12. While her cause of death has not been confirmed, reports speculate that Gerren suffered from complications related to lupus as she was reportedly on dialysis at the time of her death.
Her death was first shared on social media by “Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood” star Ray Cunningham.
42. DMX, rapper, actor, 50
DMX, whose real name was Earl Simmons, passed away on April 9 after being hospitalized at White Plains Hospital in New York.
43. Midwin Charles, attorney, 47
Midwin Charles died on April 7 at the age of 47.
44. Alcee Hastings, congressman, 84
Representative Alcee Hastings, a Democrat from Florida, died at the age of 84 on April 6.
45. Alvin Sykes, civil rights activist, 64
Sykes was a respected civil rights activist and a self-taught legal investigator who helped reopen the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till. He died on March 19 at the age of 64.
46. Sarah Obama, paternal step-grandmother of Barack Obama, 99
Sarah Obama, the matriarch of President Barack Obama’s Kenyan family died on March 29 in Kenya after being hospitalized for a week. She was 99 years old.
47. Craig “muMs” Grant, poet-actor
Renowned actor and poet Craig “muMs” Grant died of an unknown cause. Grant was most notably known for his role as Arnold “Poet” Jackson on the groundbreaking HBO series “Oz.”
48. Elgin Baylor, NBA legend, 86
Elgin Baylor, the NBA legend and Hall of Fame player who wowed as a star on the hardcourt with the Los Angeles Lakers before he did the same in the boardroom as an executive with the Los Angeles Clippers, died March 22 at the age of 86.
Baylor’s wife said her husband died of natural causes.
ESPN reported: “Considered one of basketball’s greatest players, Baylor was an 11-time All-Star and 10-time All-NBA selection during his 14 seasons with the Lakers from 1958 to 1971. He was the 1958-59 Rookie of the Year as well as the All-Star Game MVP that year. He averaged a double-double for his career, posting 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.”
Baylor is survived by his wife and daughter.
49. Yaphet Kotto, actor, 81
Actor Yaphet Kotto died March 15 at the age of 81. His wife announced the death via his Facebook page but didn’t offer a cause of death.
Kotto was a classically trained actor who went on to achieve success on the stage as well as the big and small screens. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 1979 for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
Fans might remember him from his starring role on the network TV show, “Homicide: Life on the Street,” in the 1990s, as well as his movie roles, including a James Bond villain in “Live and Let Die,” which was filmed in predominately Black settings.
50. Reggie Warren, singer, 52
Celebrated singer Reggie Warren died on March 14 surrounded by loved ones in his Pasadena, California, home. Warren was a founding member of TROOP, a New Jack Swing R&B group that rose to fame in the early 90’s. He was 52.
51. Jo Thompson, muscian-singer, 92
Thompson, a Detroit native, died on March 9 at the age of 92.
52. Paul H. Brock, journalist, 89
Brock, the founding executive director of the The National Association of Journalists (NABJ) died on March 14 at the age of 89, according to the NABJ. Prior to his death Brock served in several high-profile roles in the field of journalism, including news director at Howard University’s WHUR-FM, director of communications for the Democratic National Committee and the campaign communications manager for Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign.
53. “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, boxing legend, 66
“Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, the legendary boxing middleweight champion, died March 13 at the age of 66. Hagler’s wife said in a Facebook post that he “passed away unexpectedly at his home” in New Hampshire. During his career that spanned 14 impressive years, Hagler lost just two times and scored 53 knockouts while amassing 62 wins.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1954 before going on to grow up in Brockton, Massachusetts, Hagler ultimately became a sports legend in nearby Boston.
Hagler defended his title 12 times before he famously lost to Sugar Ray Leonard in a split decision in 1987 during what turned out to be his final boxing match.
54. Robert Ashby, military hero, 95
Robert Ashby, one of the three surviving members of the Tuskegee Air Force died on March 5 at the age of 95, the Associated Press reports.
55. Obe Noir, rapper-activist, 31
Noir, a respected Houston rapper and activist was gunned down on March 8. He was 31. Police are actively investigating his death.
56. Marshall Latimore, journalist, 36
Latimore, a Birmingham, Alabama, native and award-winning journalist, died on March 10. Latimore worked as editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Voice. He was 36.
57. Lawrence Otis Graham, author, 59
Graham, a New York Times bestseller, died on Feb. 19. He was 59 years old. His works published in the 1990’s examined the intricacies and tensions surrounding Black people who achieved financial mobility in America.
58. Jahmil French, actor, 28
Fans mourned the 28-year-old “Degrassi” actor’s death on March 2.
“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of a dear friend and client Jahmil French,” his agent Gabrielle Kachman said in a statement. “He will be remembered by many for his passion for the arts, his commitment to his craft, and his vibrant personality. I ask that you keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.”
59. Bunny Wailer, reggae icon, 73
Wailer, a reggae icon and musical giant died on Tuesday at the age of 73.
60. Irv Cross, legendary broadcaster, 81
Cross, a former NFL defensive back who made history in the broadcasting industry died on Feb. 28. He was 81. He made history as the first Black man to work as a full-time sports analyst on national television. His death announcement was made by his former team the Philadelphia Eagles. Cross was drafted to the Eagles in the 1961 NFL draft where he spent six years before he was traded to the Rams. During his time in the NFL, he made two Pro Bowls before retiring in 1969.
61. Shelia Washington, founder, Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center, 61
Washington died from a heart attack in January at the age of 61. For over a decade she waged a campaign to exonerate the Scottsboro Boys, a group of Black teens who were falsely accused of raping white women aboard a train in Alabama in the 1930s.
62. Antoine Hodge, opera singer, 38
Hodge, 38, died from COVID-19 complications after battling the disease for weeks.
63. Douglas Turner Ward, actor, Negro Ensemble Company co-founder, 90
Douglas Turner Ward, an actor and champion of Black playwrights who was the co-founder of the Negro Ensemble Company, died Feb. 20 at the age of 90.
Ward wrote a column in the New York Times that ultimately led to the company’s start.
“If any hope, outside of chance individual fortune, exists for Negro playwrights as a group — or, for that matter, Negro actors and other theater craftsman — the most immediate, pressing, practical, absolutely minimally essential active first step is the development of a permanent Negro repertory company of at least Off-Broadway size and dimension,” Ward wrote at the time. “Not in the future … but now!”
That prompted the Ford Foundation to grant him the funds needed to establish the Negro Ensemble Company, which went on to produce stage classics such as “A Soldiers Play,” starring Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson, and “The River Niger.”
64. Prince Markie Dee, rapper, 52
Prince Markie Dee, who rose to fame as a founding member of the pioneering 1980s rap group, Fat Boys, died Feb. 17 at the age of 52. He reportedly died from congestive heart failure. Hip Hop Wired reports:
“Prince Markie Dee appeared in the ensemble cast of Krush Groove, which was loosely based on the life of Russell Simmons, and with the Fat Boys also starred in their own movie called Disorderlies in 1987. The Fat Boy’s self-titled debut was released in 1984 and produced by Kurtis Blow. Their 1987 album Crushin’ went platinum.
“After the Fat Boys’ run, Markie found success as solo acts, with ‘Typical Reasons (Swing My Way)’ from his 1992 solo album Free. The song became a no. 1 single and he eventually settled in as a producer, as Soul Convention with Cory Rooney, as well as a radio host. Recently he had been hosting a show on SiriusXM’s LL Cool J-founded Rock The Bells.”
65. Vincent Jackson, former NFL star, 38
Vincent Jackson, a former wide receiver for several NFL teams, was found dead in a hotel room in Tampa, Florida, on Feb. 15. He was just 38 years old. The circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately reported and condolences poured in from around the professional football community for someone who was universally regarded as a great player and even better person. His family had reported him missing on Feb. 10.
66. Danny Ray, MC who put cape on James Brown, 85
Danny Ray, who worked with James Brown for more than four decades in various roles, including as the man who put the singer’s cape on him while he was performing on stage, died. on Feb. 2 at the age of 85, the Washington Post reported. No cause of death was listed.
In addition to handling Brown’s cape, Ray was effectively his personal fashion stylist, valet and overall personal assistant. Ray would also faithfully introduce Brown before his performances.
67. Frederick K.C. Price, evangelist, 89
Frederick K.C. Price, a televangelist Christian preacher who had one of the first predominately Black megachurches in the U.S., has died following complications from COVID-19. He died on Feb. 12 at the age of 89.
The New York Times reported:
“Mr. Price founded the Crenshaw Christian Center in Inglewood, Calif., in 1973, according to the church’s website. Its membership has grown to over 28,000 from 300 at its inception.
“In addition to services in the FaithDome, a 10,000-seat building, Mr. Price began televising his services locally in 1978 through Ever Increasing Faith Ministries, the missionary outreach arm of the church, after he had ‘received instruction from God,’ according to the church’s website. Mr. Price had begun broadcasting his services on the radio years earlier, and expanded the televised broadcasts ‘in an effort to reach Black America.’”
68. Terez Paylor, sports journalist, 37
Yahoo Sports journalist Terez Paylor died unexpectedly on Feb. 9 at the age of 37.
69. Mary Wilson, co-founder of The Supremes, 76
Mary Wilson, one of the founding members of The Supremes, has died at the age of 76. Her death on Feb. 8 was unexpected. There was no cause of death immediately announced.
A press release announcing Wilson’s death remembered her as someone who “changed the face of pop music to become a trendsetter who broke down social, racial, and gender barriers, which all started with the wild success of their first number one song. Formed in Detroit as The Primettes in 1959, The Supremes were Motown’s most successful act of the 1960s, scoring 12 No. 1 singles. They also continue to reign as America’s most successful vocal group to date. Their influence not only carries on in contemporary R&B, soul and pop, they also helped pave the way for mainstream success by Black artists across all genres.”
70. Karen Lewis, former Chicago Teachers Union president, 67
Former Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis died on Feb. 7 from brain cancer, NBC News Chicago reports. Lewis was known for her fiery activism, spearheading a 2011 effort which in 2012 resulted in the first teachers strike in 25 years. Lewis, a former chemistry teacher will be remembered as a champion for educators in Chicago and helped mobilize the group to fight for equity. She battled a series of health issues before her death. In 2017 she suffered a stroke and in 2018, she was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
71. Leon Spinks, former heavyweight champion, 67
Spinks died on Feb. 5 after battling prostate and other cancers.
72. Dianne Durham, gymnast, 52
Dianne Durham, a trailblazer in the gymnast world died on Feb. 4 at the age of 52 after suffering from a short, unknown illness according to NBC News. Durham was the first Black person to win a USA Gymnastics national championship. Her vision and fortitude paved the way for other Black women gymnasts like Dominique Dawes, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles
73. John Chaney, college basketball coaching legend, 89
74. Cicely Tyson, actress, 96
Legendary actress Cicely Tyson died on Thursday at the age of 96. Her death was confirmed by Larry Thompson, her manager of 40 years, who released a statement to Variety. Tyson passed just two days after the release of her memoir, “Just as I am.” She paved the way for Black actors in Hollywood and her presence on the screen and in the world will be sorely missed
75. Hank Aaron, MLB icon, 86
Aaron, a baseball legend who made history in 1974 when he shattered Babe Ruth’s home run record, died on Jan. 22 at the age of 86. Fans and supporters shared their grief on social media, honoring the MLB icon with tributes and thanks for what he gave the game of baseball, as well as his civil rights and philanthropic efforts.
76. Duranice Pace, gospel singer, 62
Pace, 62, was the eldest sister of “The Annointed Pace Sisters,” which consisted of Duranice, June Pace–Martin, Melonda Pace, Dejuaii Pace, Leslie Pace, Latrice Pace and Lydia Pace. The Atlanta-based group helped catapult the city into the mainstream as a musical landmark in the south. The Pace Sisters recorded a total of seven albums together including chart toppers, “U-Know,” “Access Granted,” “My Purpose” and “Return.” On social media her fans and supporters continue to reflect on the musical legacy she left behind.
Famed and beloved gospel singer Duranice Pace died on Jan. 14, according to family members who confirmed via social media. She was 62-years-old. Pace was the eldest sister of “The Annointed Pace Sisters,” which consisted of Duranice, June Pace–Martin, Melonda Pace, Dejuaii Pace, Leslie Pace, Latrice Pace and Lydia Pace. The Atlanta-based group helped catapult the city into the mainstream as a musical landmark in the south.
Details surrounding her death are scarce. Those close to Pace confirmed that she battling an unknown illness and was hospitalized last week. On social media Pace’s supporters asked for prayers and well-wishes in hopes that she would recover.
77. Tim Lester, NFL star, 52
Tim Lester, a former NFL star who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams, and Dallas Cowboys, died on Jan. 12 from COVID-19 complications. He was 52. After his almost decade long career in the NFL, he dedicated his life to coaching and philanthropy efforts in Milton, Georgia.
Tim Lester, a former NFL star who was known on the gridiron as “The Bus Driver,” died on Jan. 12 from COVID-19 complications. He was 52. Lester played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams, and Dallas Cowboys during his almost decade long career in the game. Lester’s former teammate all-star Emmitt Smith memorialized him on Twitter after the tragic news broke.
“It’s a sad day to hear of Tim Lester’s passing…My thoughts go out to his family, Steelers Nation and his teammates that he so steadily blocked and protected. RIP to “The Bus Driver,” Smith wrote.
78. Bryan Monroe, former NABJ president, 55
Monroe died from a heart attack at age 55 on Jan. 13. He served as president of the NABJ from 2005-2007. Monroe was a chair at Verizon and taught in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia. During his career in the news Monroe also worked as an editor for CNN’s political site and accrued acclaim for his leadership at the Biloxi Sun Herald during Hurricane Katrina. Following, the outlet won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage.
Former NABJ President Bryan Monroe died of a heart attack at his home in Bethesda, Maryland, on Jan. 13, according to a statement. Monroe served as president of the illustrious organization which provides advocacy and training for Black journalists, from 2005-2007. He was a chair member at Verizon and taught at the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia.
79. Meredith C. Anding Jr., civil rights icon, 79
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Meredith Anding Jr., one of the Tougaloo College students who attempted to integrate the Jackson Municipal Library in 1961. Thank you for taking a stand for Freedom! Our thoughts and prayers are with the Anding family. pic.twitter.com/HC1tURbUd2
— Medgar&MyrlieEversInstitute (@MMEI63) January 12, 2021
Meredith C. Anding Jr., a civil rights icon who as a member of the “Tougaloo Nine” was arrested for entering a “whites only” library in 1961, has died. Anding was 79 years old. The cause of death was complications from leukemia.
The Associated Press reported: “The Tougaloo Nine were students at the historically Black institution Tougaloo College who staged a peaceful sit-in at Jackson’s white-only library on March, 27, 1961. It is widely considered the first student protest of segregation at a public institution in Mississippi.”
80. Eric Jerome Dickey, best-selling author, 59
Dickey left a career as a software engineer to pursue his art and worked diligently at his craft for years writing poetry, comedy, and scripts until he published his first novel “Sister, Sister” in 1996.” Over the course of his career Dickey published 29 novels and was honored as a New York Times best-selling author. He also earned a series of NAACP Image Awards, the 2006 Best Contemporary Fiction and Author of The Year, and Storyteller of the Year in 2008 at the 1st Annual Essence Literary Awards
81. Floyd Little, football legend, 78
College and professional football star Floyd Little died on New Year’s Day. He was 78 years old and died following a brief battle with cancer. In 1964, Little chose to attend Syracuse University, where he was a three-time all-American. That collegiate stardom paved Little’s way to star in the then-AFL for the Denver Broncos, a team that later became part of the larger group of professional football franchises popularly known as the NFL. Speaking of “franchise,” that became Little’s nickname on the Broncos as he went on to set several rushing marks.
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