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911nyc_07_076_mac.jpg Harry Roland dispenses information to anyone who will listen, giving out facts about 9/11 for the past 5 years around Ground Zero. A visit to New York city as it prepares for the 5 year anniversary of the destruction of the World

Harry Roland dispenses information to anyone who will listen, giving out facts about 9/11 around Ground Zero. | Source: San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images / Getty

UPDATED: 2:00 pm. ET, June 10

Harry John Roland, who was also known as “The World Trade Center Man” for his dedicated physical presence at the site of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001 following the tragedy, died on May 23. He was 70. Roland died of a heart attack, his son confirmed to the New York Times.

Known in part for “calling out to pedestrians in singsong rhymes about damage that could never be undone,” Roland’s life was commemorated in an obituary recently published:

Within months of Sept. 11, Mr. Roland, a self-described former tour guide and security guard at the World Trade Center, haunted the streets surrounding the ruins. He was not a street preacher of the End Times to come, but something more unusual: an orator who insisted that passers-by reckon with a tragedy of the past.

It was also reported that Chet Walker, a former NBA all-star who helped the Philadelphia 76ers win its first and only league championship, has died. He was 84.

Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony

Chet Walker and Reggie Miller as they are formally inducted during the Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Symphony Hall on September 7, 2012, in Springfield, Massachusetts. | Source: Jim Rogash / Getty

The death of Walker, who was also an Emmy Award-winning movie producer, was attributed to an unspecified illness.

More from the Associated Press:

Walker, who played in seven All-Star games during a 13-year professional career, was a starting forward on the 76ers’ title team, which won 68 regular-season games and broke the Boston Celtics’ championship stranglehold.

On a team often included in discussions of the N.B.A.’s greatest, Walker was the third-leading scorer, averaging 19.3 points per game and 8.1 rebounds, while fitting seamlessly with the future and fellow Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Billy Cunningham.

MORE: Rest In Power: Notable Black People Who Died In 2023

Scroll down to keep reading below and to learn more about the other notable Black people who have died this year, in no particular order.

1. Larry Allen

Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys Source:Getty

NFL legend Larry Allen died on June 2 while on vacation with his family in Mexico, according to ESPN.  Allen was only 52 years old.

His former team, the Dallas Cowboys announced his death via statement, which they posted online.

“The Dallas Cowboys are very saddened to share that Cowboys legend, Super Bowl Champion, Cowboys Ring of Honor member, and Pro Football Hall of Fame Larry Allen passed away suddenly while on vacation in Mexico with his family on Sunday,” the team wrote in a statement. “Larry, known for his great athleticism and incredible strength, was one of the most respected, accomplished offensive linemen to ever play in the NFL. His versatility and dependability were also signature parts of his career. Through that, he continued to serve as inspiration for many other players, defining what it meant to be a great teammate, competitor and winner.”

2. Marian Robinson

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-EASTER EGG ROLL Source:Getty

Marian Robinson, the mother of former first lady Michelle Obama, died Friday, NBC News reported.

Robinson’s death was confirmed by a family member. She was 86.

No cause of death was immediately reported.

Michelle Obama on Friday took to Instagram to eulogize her late mother.

“My mom Marian Robinson was my rock, always there for whatever I needed,” Obama wrote in a post that included an official family statement that reflected on her mother’s life. “She was the same steady backstop for our entire family, and we are heartbroken to share she passed away today.”

More from NBC News:

“She passed peacefully this morning, and right now, none of us are quite sure how exactly we’ll move on without her,” the family statement said.

The family statement is from Michelle and Barack Obama; Craig Robinson and his wife, Kelly; and Marian Robinson’s grandchildren, Avery, Leslie, Malia, Sasha, Austin and Aaron.

Robinson became known to Americans as the country’s first grandmother after her son-in-law, Barack Obama, won the 2008 presidential election. She was a fixture in the White House during his eight years in office, though she kept a low profile. She attended holiday events, the occasional overseas trip and concerts in the East Room. But most often she was with her granddaughters, Sasha and Malia.

Michelle Obama and her mother were very close.

In 2022, Michelle Obama announced plans to create a museum exhibit as an ode to her mother, whom the former first lady has credited as a source of empowerment and strength. The exhibit—named Opening the White House—will be housed inside the forthcoming Chicago-based Obama Presidential Center Museum. It’s inspired by the values of family and community, two important deeply-rooted principles that Obama says her mother instilled within her.

The creation of the project signified a full-circle addition to the center as it will live in the same community where Robinson—a Chicago native—raised and nurtured her family.

When the Obamas moved into the White House, Robinson was in tow to live there, too.

But she only moved in temporarily to help her granddaughters settle into their new life. As Robinson told PEOPLE after the 2008 election: “I love those people, but I love my own house. The White House reminds me of a museum and it’s like, how do you sleep in a museum?”

Robinson has been described as the bedrock of the Obama family.

After Obama was elected president, he said on 60 Minutes: “She’s just been an unbelievable support for all of us during this process.”

Robinson frequently took part in White House activities such as the annual Easter egg hunt and handing out candy for Halloween. She also participated in similar events, like volunteering at a food pantry in Washington, D.C., for Thanksgiving.

And when Michelle Obama in 2011 headed to Africa on an official visit with stops in South Africa and Botswana to continue her work encouraging young people around the world to become active in their countries, Robinson was by her side.

On that trip, Robinson, with her daughter, notably met with then-South African President Nelson Mandela. Together they viewed some of Mandela’s personal papers at his foundation after he sent word that he wanted to meet them at his home in a leafy Johannesburg neighborhood. That was the first meeting between America’s first Black first lady and the former political prisoner who later became his country’s first Black president.

Robinson was also with the first family when they attended a Howard University men’s basketball game in the nation’s capital to watch her son and Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson, coach the Oregon State University.

Robinson was also known for her love of yoga, and bragging about her son as much as she did her daughter.

“He’s another hard worker,” Robinson once said. “I’m just so proud of him.”

3. Rev. William Lawson

Rev. William Lawson Source:Getty

Influential Houston pastor, Rev. William Lawson has died at the age of 95.  His death was confirmed by Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, the church he founded in 1962. No date or cause of death was immediately reported.

“It is with both inexpressible sorrow and overwhelming gratitude that we announce the passing of our Founding Pastor, Reverend William A. Lawson on May 14, 2024. He has completed his time of service here on earth and is now enjoying eternal rest,” the church wrote its Facebook page. “In his nearly 96 years, Reverend Lawson has served as husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, as well as preacher, professor, and civil rights leader. But whatever title you may have used to describe him, it has been said many times that Reverend Bill Lawson was “Houston’s Pastor.”

Lawson was an important figure and prominent leader in Houston’s Black community. He was also a long-time civil rights advocate and a close friend to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By setting up Houston’s local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), he played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement.

4. Jimmy Johnson

St. Louis Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Source:Getty

Former NFL defensive back Jimmy Johnson died on May 8 at the age of 86, the NFL announced. No cause of death was reported.

Johnson was among the greatest San Francisco 49ers in franchise history and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1994.

“Jimmy Johnson was extraordinarily athletically talented,” Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement. “The 49ers enjoyed the luxury of using him on offense and defense early in his career to fill team needs. Once he settled in at left cornerback, he flourished. The notion that a ‘lockdown’ cornerback could cut the field in half for the opposition was true with Jimmy. Only rarely would other teams’ quarterbacks even look his direction, and more often than not regretted the decision if they challenged him.”

Jimmy Johnson played 16 seasons entirely with the 49ers and was a standout in multiple positions.

He played cornerback, wide receiver and safety during his time in San Francisco, racking up five Pro Bowl selections, three first-team All-Pro nods and a spot on the Hall of Fame’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.

Johnson ended his NFL career with 47 interceptions and 615 return yards, only second to Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott (51 interceptions, 643 yards).

As a receiver, Johnson had 40 receptions for 690 yards and four touchdowns in two seasons, according to the NFL.

He retired in 1976 with the most games played for a DB in league history.

5. Archie Cooley

Denver Post Archives Source:Getty

Archie Cooley, who starred as both a player and coach for two of the top football programs in HBCU history, died on April 18. He was 85.

The Clarion-Ledger confirmed Cooley’s death.

More from the Clarion-Ledger:

Cooley was known as the “The Gunslinger” and during his time at Mississippi Valley State introduced his innovative “Satellite Express” offense. The offense featured a no-huddle look with five wide receivers and showcased quarterback Willie Totten and Rice. Rice would go on to a stellar career with the San Francisco 49ers, election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is considered one of the greatest receivers in the history of the NFL.

Cooley was born in Sumrall and raised in Laurel where he attended Oak Park High School.

Cooley played for Jackson State from 1959-61 and was captain of the team. He started at linebacker and center for coach John Merritt. Cooley graduated in 1962.

 

 

 

6. U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr.

Public Health Alert: Rise In Young Adult Colorectal Cancer Cases Spotlighted At National Mall Installation Source:Getty

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., the Congressman from New Jersey who represented the Garden State on Capitol Hill for a dozen years, has died. He was 65.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced the death of Payne on April 24 via a social media post.

While no cause of death was immediately announced, Payne was hospitalized earlier this month following what NBC News reported as a “cardiac episode” related to the Congressman’s diabetes.

Just last week, Payne’s Congressional office said he was in “stable condition” while remaining hospitalized and reportedly unconscious.

Payne successes his namesake father Donald Payne Sr. — New Jersey’s first Black member of Congress — as a lawmaker on Capitol Hill.

Donald Payne Sr. died in 2012 while undergoing treatment for colon cancer.

The father and son U.S. legislators, both Democrats, collectively represented New Jersey’s 10th congressional district for 24 years.

Payne Jr. was elected to Congress in 2012.

Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Payne was a city councilman in Newark, a role in which his father also served in the 1980s.

Payne found his niche as a Congressman in part by focusing on creating jobs and growing the economy, two things he touched on during a 2015 Congressional Black Caucus speech emphasizing the need for Black entrepreneurship.

Research shows that African Americans start businesses with less capital than do white Americans and that these gaps persist over time. Businesses with less capital are less likely to succeed,” Payne said. “The lack of access to capital is a huge barrier for African-Americans looking to start or expand their own businesses.”

As a result of this, he continued, African American small businesses “tend to be smaller in size and scale and they often don’t have the capacity to succeed.”

Payne added: “It is essential that African-Americans have the resources and the capital they need for their businesses to be successful” because their success drives U.S. job creation, economic growth and global competitiveness.”  

7. William Strickland

William Strickland Source:loc.gov

Civil rights activist William Strickland died April 10 at the age of 87, according to AP.

William Strickland was an avid supporter of the Black Power movement and worked with many leaders of the Black community in the 1960s. AP confirmed Stickland’s death through family.

William Strickland found his civil rights calling while in high school in Massachusetts after becoming inspired by the writings of James Baldwin and Richard Wright.

In the early 1960s, Strickland joined the Boston chapter of the Northern Student Movement and participated in protests throughout the South. In 1963, he was promoted to director of the organization and began working alongside prominent leaders like Malcolm X and others in New York, focusing on civil rights issues such as strikes, school boycotts, police brutality as well as rent increases.

“He made incredible contributions to the Black freedom movement that haven’t really been appreciated,” Peter Blackmer, an assistant professor of Africology and African American Studies at Eastern Michigan University, told AP. “His contention was that civil rights wasn’t a sufficient framework for challenging the systems that were behind the oppression of Black communities throughout the diaspora.”

In 1969, after MLK was assassinated, Strickland co-founded the Institute of the Black World. The organization was a think tank for Black intellectuals.

He would spend his later years teaching political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

8. Mandisa

ENTERTAINMENT: OCT 16 GMA Dove Awards Source:Getty

Grammy Award-winning gospel singer Mandisa, who rose to fame in part as a participant on the popular “American Idol” singing contest TV show, died on April 19. She was 47.

No cause of death was immediately reported.

More from Elev8:

Known for her powerhouse voice, Mandisa began her singing career at an early age as a member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers while she attended Fisk University. After competing in season 5 of American Idol where she finished in the Top 10, Mandisa went on to release her first album, True Beauty, in 2007. As a Grammy winner and two-time K-LOVE Fan Award winner, some of her most notable music collaborations have included songs with Kirk Franklin, TobyMac and Matthew West.

“Mandisa loved Jesus, and she used her unusually extensive platform to talk about Him at every turn. Her kindness was epic, her smile electric, her voice massive, but it was no match for the size of her heart,” K-LOVE Chief Media Officer, David Pierce, said in a statement. “Mandisa struggled, and she was vulnerable enough to share that with us, which helped us talk about our own struggles. Mandisa’s struggles are over. She is with the God she sang about now. While we are saddened, Mandisa is home. We’re praying for Mandisa’s family and friends and ask you to join us.”

Born Mandisa Lynn Hundley, the songstress grew up singing in the church before going on to college, including a stint at Fisk University, a historically Black college in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mandisa performed as a backup singer to established country music stars Shania Twain and Trisha Yearwood before ultimately agreeing to become a contestant on “American Idol” in 2006.

Citing a viral dispute she had with “American Idol” boss Simon Crowell addressing her weight, the New York Times recounted the role that religion played in Mandisa’s life.

“Food has always been a problem for me,” Mandisa told the Oklahoman the same year she was featured on the singing contest TV show. “When Simon first made the comments, it was a nightmare. But God turned it around. Those words became the impetus I needed to kick-start my plan to live a more healthful lifestyle and get my eating under control.”

Tributes to Mandisa poured in on social media after the Christian gospel singer’s death was announced. Many of the condolences focused on how Mandisa drew attention to her own mental health struggles.

“I didn’t know Mandisa, but she was very open about her battles with anxiety and depression,” actress and fellow singer Sheryl Lee Ralph wrote in a post. “I continue to remind us all that we are not alone and do your best to find someone to talk with. You are loved.”

9. Rico Wade

Rico Wade At The Dungeon II Source:Getty

Famed Atlanta producer Rico Wade died on April 13 at the age of 52. Wade’s close friend Killer Mike confirmed his death in an Instagram post.

“I don’t have the words to express my deep and profound sense of loss,” wrote Killer Mike. “I am Praying for your wife and Children. I am praying for the Wade family. I am praying for us all. “This is a part of the journey. You told me “It ain’t been hard throughout the journey, it’s been a Journey.” The journey ain’t gonna be the Same Journey without U. Like U say tho Umma “Stay Down on it”……we all are.”

Rico Wade was a member of the Atlanta-based production trio Organized Noize. He played an enormous role in helping shape the sound of hip-hop coming out of the South in the 1990s. Wade has worked with legendary artists such as OutKast, Goodie Mob, the Dungeon Family and many more.

One of his biggest contributions to Hip hop was TLC’s 1995 smash hit “Waterfalls.” Wade co-wrote and produced the song, which was nominated for two Grammys and ranked ’13’ on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years.”

10. Faith Ringgold

Art Miami Museum Professional + Curators Brunch Honoring Faith Ringgold Source:Getty

Award-winning author and artist Faith Ringgold died on April 12 at the age of 93. Her death was confirmed by her assistant Grace Matthews, who said Ringgold died at her home in Englewood, New Jersey .

Ringgold was a true pioneer for Black women in the art world. In 1971 she founded the ‘Where We At’ artists collective for Black women. She also turned to social activism, protesting American museums for the lack of representation of Black female artists.

“I became a feminist out of disgust for the manner in which women were marginalized in the art world,” Ringgold told the New York Times in 2019.  “I began to incorporate this perspective into my work, with a particular focus on Black women as slaves and their sexual exploitation.”

11. Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson

OJ Simpson Source:Getty

Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson, the football legend who rose to impressive heights of success as a popular pitchman in national advertisements before being accused and ultimately acquitted of murdering his ex-wife, died Wednesday. He was 76.

Simpson’s death was announced by his family in a social media post from his account on X, formerly Twitter.

“On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer,” the post said. “He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace. -The Simpson Family”

It was revealed earlier this year that Simpson was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was seeking treatment. He had been undergoing chemotherapy in Las Vegas, where he called home.

Simpson promptly shot down rumors that he was in hospice.

He filmed a video that he posted to social media in February laughing off the hospice reports.

“No, I’m not in any hospice,” Simpson is shown saying from the driver’s seat of a car.

He said he was “hosting a ton of friends for the Super Bowl here in Las Vegas” and insisted that “all is well.”

After retiring from football, Simpson moved on to a lucrative career in Hollywood that notably also included becoming a spokesperson for the Hertz car rental company that featured the former star athlete running around in airports.

It was at the height of that fame when Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were found stabbed to death at her Los Angeles area condo on June 13, 1994.

Split from his wife two years prior, the former NFL great immediately became a prime suspect. After agreeing to surrender to the police days later, Simpson reneged and left behind what experts later determined to be a suicide letter. The letter, read by defense attorney Robert Kardashian, added a new wrinkle to the case as a city-wide search for Simpson was underway that eventually resulted in the infamous “white Bronco” chase where police followed a Ford SUV driven by Simpson’s friend, Al Cowling, all on live television.

Simpson eventually pleaded not guilty to double homicide despite mounting evidence against him. He assembled a so-called “Dream Team” of attorneys, including Robert Shapiro and a trio of lawyers who have since died: Johnny Cochran, F. Lee Bailey and Robert Kardashian.

On the morning of Oct. 3, 1995, the jury turned in a not-guilty verdict.

Simpson’s life did not get any easier since his murder acquittal.

A civil suit brought by the families of Nicole and Goldman aimed at Simpson’s finances and earnings. A 2006 book titled “If I Did It” raised speculation that Simpson was the actual killer — or at least knew who ended the life of his ex-wife and her friend.

Simpson was ultimately jailed for 11 years on unrelated robbery and other charges.

After being released in 2018, the Goldman family started to notice that Simpson was able to generate some income, but they were not seeing a dime of the money that the court determined they were owed. As of last year, O.J had reportedly only paid the Goldman family $132,000 of the debt which reportedly ballooned to more than $70 million in part because of interest rates.

12. Vontae Davis

NFL: NOV 28 Dolphins at Raiders Source:Getty

Former NFL Cornerback Vontae Davis was found dead in his home in Florida on April 1, according to CNN. The two-time Pro Bowl cornerback was just 35 years old.

Authorities say they were called to the home by a house assistant when they found Davis dead but didn’t believe foul play was involved.

His death was being investigated by The Broward County Medical Examiner’s office.

Vontae Davis spent 10 years in the NFL, playing for the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills. He played in over 121 games and amassed a total of 22 interceptions and 97 pass deflections.

Davis made headlines in 2018 when he retired halfway through a Week 2 game after signing a one-year, $5 million contract with the Buffalo Bills. Davis started the game but decided to call his career quits at halftime. The abrupt decision sent shockwaves through the league, as retiring in the middle of a game was unheard of.

Davis’ reasons for retiring seemed more about his life after football than anything else.

“I had more of an out-of-body, spiritual moment, and my intuition was telling me that football was no longer for me,” he told CNN after his retirement.

When asked about what he thought about those who said he quit the game he responded, “I don’t think I quit. I think I feel that, as I walk away from a game that no longer serves me mentally, physically, and emotionally. That’s what I would tell people who say I quit. Most people don’t know who I am as a person or what I’ve been through to achieve the success I have.”

13. Chance Perdomo

"Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One" UK Premiere – VIP Access Source:Getty

Actor Chance Perdomo who was known for his role in the new Amazon show “Gen V” has died following a motorcycle crash, according to AP. The young actor was 27 years old.

“On behalf of the family and his representatives, it is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Chance Perdomo’s untimely passing as a result of a motorcycle accident,” a publicist said to AP in a statement Saturday evening.

According to the family publicist, no one else was injured in the motorcycle crash but no details about the incident have yet been released.

 

Chance Perdomo was also widely known for his role in the Netflix series “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” where he played the role of Ambrose Spellman. Perdomo starred in 36 episodes, which spanned over 4 seasons.

In 2023, Perdomo starred in his most popular role as Andre Anderson in The Boys spinoff series Gen V. The show follows a group of young superheroes who must navigate their college experience while being controlled by an evil corporation called Vought. The show was a hit success for Amazon Prime.

Following Chance Perdomo his representatives also released a heartfelt statement offering condolences to the family and asking for fans to respect the family’s privacy during these difficult times.

“His passion for the arts and insatiable appetite for life was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth will carry on in those who he loved dearest,” the statement read. “We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their beloved son and brother.”

The producers of the show shared their love for Perdomo’s family on social.

“We can’t quite wrap our heads around this,” the statement said. “For those of us knew him and worked with him, Chance was always charming and smiling, an enthusiastic force of nature, an incredibly talented performer, and more than anything else, just a very kind, loving person. Even writing about him in the past tense doesn’t make sense. We are so sorry for Chance’s family, and we are grieving the lost of our friend and colleague. Hug your loved ones tonight.”

Amazon MGM Studios also shared statements remembering Perdomo.

“The entire GEN V family is devastated by the sudden passing of Chance Perdomo,” Amazon said. “Amazon MGM Studios and Song Picture Television extend our heartfelt thoughts and support to Chance’s family and all who love him at this difficult time.”

14. Louis Gossett Jr.

A Legacy of Changing Lives Gala, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 13 Mar 2018 Source:Getty

Louis Gossett Jr., the award-winning actor who became the first Black man to win an Oscar for best supporting role, died Thursday, the Associated Press reported. He was 87.

No cause of death was immediately reported.

Gossett’s nephew confirmed his uncle’s death to the Associated Press.

Gossett notably won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1983 for his portrayal of the no-nonsense Navy flight school sergeant who whips Richard Gere into shape in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” That was the first time a Black person had won the Oscar.

That Academy Award was among dozens of other honors Gossett won during a career that spanned more than 50 years on the big and small screen, including the seminal TV miniseries, “Roots.”

Gossett was very race-conscious and recalled a troubling experience with the law when he was a young actor in Hollywood in the 960s.

From the Associated Press:

Gossett went to Hollywood for the first time in 1961 to make the film version of “A Raisin in the Sun.” He had bitter memories of that trip, staying in a cockroach-infested motel that was one of the few places to allow Black people.

In 1968, he returned to Hollywood for a major role in “Companions in Nightmare,” NBC’s first made-for-TV movie that starred Melvyn Douglas, Anne Baxter and Patrick O’Neal.

This time, Gossett was booked into the Beverly Hills Hotel and Universal Studios had rented him a convertible. Driving back to the hotel after picking up the car, he was stopped by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s officer who ordered him to turn down the radio and put up the car’s roof before letting him go.

Within minutes, he was stopped by eight sheriff’s officers, who had him lean against the car and made him open the trunk while they called the car rental agency before letting him go.

“Though I understood that I had no choice but to put up with this abuse, it was a terrible way to be treated, a humiliating way to feel,” Gossett wrote in his memoir. “I realized this was happening because I was Black and had been showing off with a fancy car — which, in their view, I had no right to be driving.”

According to IMDB.com. Gossett appeared in more than 200 productions as an actor dating back to 1957, when he appeared in two episodes of “The Big Story” TV series.

While Gossett was nominated for dozens of awards during that impressive time span, he won five of them, including being crowned in 1977 Outstanding Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series for his role as Fiddler in “Roots.”

Over the years, Gossett had experienced several health setbacks.

Most recently, he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the pandemic. In that instance, Gossett ended up leaving a local Georgia hospital out of fear. Gossett, then 84, was recovering at home under the care of his son. He told TMZ, “Please wear masks, social distance, isolate, pray and listen within. We cannot survive without one another.”

In 2010, Gossett revealed that he was being treated for prostate cancer. At the time, he said the disease was caught early and went public in part as a way to raise awareness in the African American community on fighting prostate cancer with preventive examinations and early treatment.

May Louis Gossett Jr. rest in peace.

15. Sarah-Ann Shaw

(08/20/2003-BOSTON,MA)In Roxbury's Dudley square, it'se unofficial Mayor Sarah Ann Shaw (formerly a reporter at WBZ-tv) .....She was at the Aug 28th 1963 "March on Washington". The 40th anniversary of the civil rights march is coming up.(082003marchm Source:Getty

Sarah-Ann Shaw, a pioneering journalist who made history as the first Black woman TV report in Boston, died on March 21. She was 90.

CBS News, the parent company of its affiliate WBZ-TV network in Boston for which Shaw worked for more than three decades, confirmed her death in a news article.

16. Jessica Pettway

2017 BET Experience - Fashion And Beauty - Day 1 Source:Getty

Long-time beauty and hair influencer Jessica Pettway, a social media starlet, died. Pettway’s sister confirmed Pettway’s death in an Instagram post on March 18 from an account that was quickly made private.

The news came after a surprising cervical cancer diagnosis and public battle with the disease. Pettway left behind a husband and two beautiful daughters.

Read more by clicking here.

 

17. Gylan Kain

Gylan Kain, a founding member of the famed spoken word group The Last Poets, died in February. The death was only made public in March after Kain’s family did not initially release details.

The New York Times reported that Kain died in the city of Lelystad in the Netherlands while at a nursing home. According to Kain’s son, Rufus Kain, his father passed away from heart disease.

18. Dorie Ladner

Joyce and Dorie Ladner, sisters and former SNCC activists in Mississippi and D.C., September 16 in Washington, DC. Source:Getty

Dorie Ann Ladner, a civil rights activist described by the New York Times as being “unsung” despite her significant accomplishments as an organizer, died on March 11. Ladner was 81 years old.

Ladner’s cause of death was confirmed by her younger sister, Joyce, who is also a civil rights icon, as being due to complications from Covid-19.

Dorie Ann Ladner is pictured to the right of her sister, Joyce.

19. Gap Band Live In Concert

Gap Band Live In Concert Source:Getty

TMZ reported that Anthony “Baby Gap” Walker, a member of the legendary R&B/funk group The Gap Band, has passed away at the age of 60.

The musician and dancer died in an Ohio hospital on March 4 of complications from a recent neck surgery, according to his brother, Dr. Eric Walker. A memorial service was expected to take place later this week in his hometown of Chicago.

Walker joined The Gap Band in 1979, over a decade after the band’s formation. Despite his late arrival, Walker served as a core member of the group for 23 years as a dancer, choreographer and songwriter.

 

20. Lichelle “Boss” Laws

Boss Portrait Shoot Source:Getty

Boss, a pioneering rapper who was the first female emcee signed to the historic Def Jam Recordings music label, has died at 54.

The cause of the death of the rapper born Lichelle Marie Laws was not immediately confirmed. However, HipHop Wired reported that “in 2011 she experienced kidney failure and suffered a stroke in 2017.”

21. Naomi King

The Tommy Hilfiger Company Attends The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dream Gala Source:Getty

Naomi Ruth Barber King, the sister-in-law of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was considered the matriarch of the family and was also a civil rights activist, died on March 7, Bernice King confirmed. She was 92.

“The mourning continues…waiting for morning to come. My aunt, Naomi King, who was married to my father’s brother, Rev. A.D. Williams King, passed today,” Bernice King wrote in an Instagram post. “Please pray for the King family.”

22. Iyaluua Ferguson

Iyaluua Ferguson Source:Solwazi Afi Olusola

Iyaluua Ferguson, a teacher, a revolutionary and a community organizer whose husband Herman Ferguson was a political prisoner, died Feb. 27 at 91.

Read more about her extraordinary life by clicking here.

23. David Johnson

David Johnson, San Francisco photographer Source:Youtube

San Francisco photographer David Johnson died on March 1 at the age of 97, according to the San Francisco Standard.

Johnson was most known for his images than documented Black San Francisco. He also captured images of some of Black culture’s most prominent leaders, including W. E. B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson. Johnson didn’t just take flicks of famous Black people, he also made his presence known at groundbreaking events such as the 1963 March on Washington.

“He was able to capture the poignancy of people,” his stepdaughter Candace Sue told SF Standard. “You can see their desire for freedom.”

24. Michael “Virgil” Jones

Michael "Virgil" Jones, former WWE wrestler Source:WWE

Just last week it was reported that former professional wrestler Mike “Virgil” Jones had died. He was 61.

Wrestling referee Marck Charles III posted the news about Virgil’s death on Facebook.

“My dear friends, it is with great sorrow that I bring news from the Jones family of the passing of our beloved Michael Jones, whom we know and loved as Virgil, Vincent, Soul Train Jones and more,” Charles wrote. “Virgil passed peacefully at the hospital this morning and I ask that you pray for him and for his family. May his memory be eternal!”

WWE also announced Virgil’s death.

From the WWE:

A beloved Superstar throughout his time in sports-entertainment, Virgil broke through alongside “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and would go on to capture the Million Dollar Title, claim WrestleMania victories, and be featured as the original bodyguard of The nWo during a legendary career.

Jones’ journey began after a conversation with Tony Atlas, and he then began training with WWE Hall of Famer Afa of The Wild Samoans. After initial success on the regional scene as Soul Train Jones, including scoring tag team gold alongside The Rock’s Father, Rocky Johnson, Jones found his home in WWE as Virgil.

Read the full WWE statement by clicking here.

While no cause of Virgil’s death was immediately reported, a GoFundMe account was raising money because Virgil “was diagnosed with Dementia.” The GoFundMe account has since stopped accepting donations.

Citing the GoFundMe account, the local Ohio news outlet WTRF reported that Virgil suffered two strokes in 2022.

Condolences for Virgil widely populated social media timelines following the news of his death, making his name a top trending topic.

Videos of Virgil wrestling against “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase were going viral as wrestling fans and enthusiasts recollected about a memorable bout between the two grapplers.

25. Eric Mays

Water Emergency Declared in Flint Source:Getty

Eric Mays, a councilman in the Michigan city of Flint who died on Feb. 24 is being remembered for his fiery, outspoken style of governing his hometown. 

Widely revered in and around his district for his unabashed style of telling it like is, particularly surrounding the environmental disaster commonly referred to as the Flint Water Crisis, Mays was 65.

Local news outlet WJRT reported that Mays’ cause of death was “natural causes after an illness.”

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley called Mays’ death “a tremendous loss for our community.”

26. Hydeia Broadbent

Los Angeles Premiere Of Apple's "They Call Me Magic" - Red Carpet Source:Getty

Hydeia Broadbent, an AIDS activist who was born with HIV and overcame that adversity to become a leading voice in the fight against the epidemic, died on Feb. 21. She was 39.

Born addicted to drugs and adopted at six weeks old, Broadbent was ultimately diagnosed with HIV when she was three years old. Broadbent contracted the disease in utero. Doctors predicted she wouldn’t live past five, but Broadbent went on to exceed nearly all expectations and became an activist to raise awareness about the disease that she refused to let negatively define her life.

27. Robert Reid

Houston Rockets Source:Getty

Robert Reid, the former NBA star who played 10 seasons with the Houston Rockets and helped take the franchise to its first two NBA Finals, died on Feb. 19 following a battle with cancer. He was 68 years old.

The news was confirmed online by Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta.

“It is with great sorrow that my family and I received the news of the passing of Rockets legend, Robert Reid,” Fertitta wrote in a social media post. “I have had the privilege of knowing Robert for over 40 years, and his presence always brought joy and positivity to any room he entered. I will never forget watching the Rockets teams he was a part of in the ’80s compete in the Finals and the love he had for the game. My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Diana, and all those who held him dear. Robert’s absence will be deeply felt, and he will be fondly remembered.”

28. Herbert Wigwe

Global Citizen Live, Lagos Source:Getty

Herbert Wigwe, a major bank executive in Africa, died on Feb. 9 in a helicopter accident in California. He was just 58 years old.

The CEO of Access Bank, a top-ranked Nigerian-based financial institution, died in the crash along with his wife, son, the former group chairman of the Nigeria Stock Exchange and both pilots, CNN reported.

Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State in Nigeria, eulogized Wigwe in a social media post.

“The tragic incident is painful and heart-wrenching, and we pray for God’s abiding comfort in this profoundly difficult time,” Obaseki wrote. “Wigwe was a colossus in Nigeria’s financial sector, leading Access Bank to become an international brand that placed Nigeria on the global map of first-class financial services.”

29. Henry Fambrough

38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony - Arrivals Source:Getty

From the Associated Press:

Henry Fambrough, the last surviving original member of the iconic R&B group The Spinners, whose hits included “It’s a Shame,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” and “The Rubberband Man,” died Wednesday, a spokesperson for the group said. He was 85.

Fambrough died peacefully of natural causes in his northern Virginia home, spokesperson Tanisha Jackson said in a statement.

Fambrough died on Feb. 7

30. Clyde Taylor

Clyde Taylor, a “leading figure in the field of Black studies in the 1970s” who “identified work by Black filmmakers as worthy of serious intellectual attention,” died on Jan. 24 at 92, the New York Times reported.

 

31. Michael Watford

The New York Times reported:

Michael Watford, a church-trained club singer whose baritone boomed over the world’s dance floors for much of the early 1990s, and in the process helped birth a subgenre of club music known as gospel house, died on Jan. 26 in Newark. He was 64.

His cousin Lorie Watford said the cause of his death, in a hospital, was dementia.

Mr. Watford’s signature hit was “So Into You,” a jubilant ditty that paired his romantic, yearning vocal, inspired by Luther Vandross, with insistent strings, a lush piano line, and frequent handclaps and drum rolls. It hit No. 1 on the Billboard dance chart in April 1994, only to be replaced a week later by Barbara Tucker’s “Beautiful People” — on which Mr. Watford provided backing vocals.

32. Carl Weathers

Houston Texans v Las Vegas Raiders Source:Getty

Legendary actor Carl Weathers, a former football star who rose to prominence on the big screen with his portrayal of fictional boxer Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” series of movies, died on Feb. 1 at 76.

No cause of Weather’s death was immediately reported.

Aside from his famous Creed character, Weathers refined his acting chops in several other box office smash movies in the 1980s, including “Predator” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and “Action Jackson” as a police officer in Detroit starring alongside R&B vixen Vanity.

More recently, Weathers had played a leading role in “The Mandelorian,” a spinoff from the Star Wars series of movies.

33. Hage Geingob

SAFRICA-NAMIBIA-DIPLOMACY Source:Getty

Hage Geingob, the president of the African nation Namibia, died on Feb 5. He was 82.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Geingob, who was elected president in 2014 with 87 percent of the vote on a wave of hope that he would fight government corruption and address Namibia’s severe economic hardship, leaves behind a mixed legacy as the country’s leader.

While he delivered on social grants for the elderly and won international praise for his push to develop renewable energy, he largely failed to uplift Namibia, a deeply impoverished country of 2.5 million. About a third of the work force is unemployed and, according to a United Nations calculation, 40 percent of the population lives in poverty. From 2008 to 2018, the number of Namibians living in shacks doubled to about a million, according to the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia.

Voters’ disappointment was evident in his re-election bid in 2019 — although he won, his vote share plummeted to 56 percent.

34. Earl Cureton

Detroit Piston v Washington Bullets Source:Getty

Earl Cureton, a basketball star who won two NBA championships, died on Feb. 4.

From ESPN:

The 6-foot-9 Cureton began his collegiate career with Robert Morris before transferring to Detroit Mercy for his final two seasons under then-coach Dick Vitale. He averaged 20 points and 9.1 rebounds during the 1979-80 season and is a member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.

The Detroit native was selected by Philadelphia in the third round of the 1979 NBA draft.

Cureton averaged 5.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 674 NBA games. He played for Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, the LA ClippersCharlotteHouston and Toronto. He was part of championship teams with the 1982-83 76ers and 93-94 Rockets.

He also coached in the NBA, United States Basketball League and Continental Basketball Association after his playing career.

35. Aston “Family Man” Barrett

Family Man Aston Barrett 2004 Source:Getty

Aston “Family Man” Barrett, the former bassist for legendary reggae group Bob Marley & The Wailers, died on Feb. 3. He was 77.

Consequence of Sound reported that Barrett’s son confirmed his father’s death;

From Consequence of Sound:

“With the heaviest of hearts, we share the news of the passing of our beloved Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett after a long medical battle,” he wrote. “This morning, the world lost not just an iconic musician and the backbone of The Wailers but a remarkable human being whose legacy is as immense as his talent. Our family is asking for privacy during this challenging time, as words cannot express our profound loss.”

Barrett hailed from Kingston, Jamaica. He initially played in Lee “Scratch” Perry’s house band, The Upsetters, before joining The Wailers with his brother Carlton in 1971.

As a member of The Wailers, Barrett was charge in charge of song arrangements and also co-produced and engineered several of the group’s albums, including Catch a Fire and Exodus.

36. Richard Caster

No. 88 Richard Caster- Tight End- New York Jets Source:Getty

Richard Caster, a former HBCU football star who ent on to play more than a dozen years as a professional football player in the NFL, died on Feb. 2 at 75.

The Associated Press reported:

Caster, a second-round pick of the Jets in 1970 out of Jackson State, caught 322 passes for 5,515 yards and 45 touchdowns during his NFL career.

Caster spent his first eight seasons with New York and became a favorite target of Joe Namath. The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Caster entered the league as a wide receiver who ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, but was later switched to tight end by coach Weeb Ewbank because of his combination of size and speed.

37. Hinton Battle

Broadway Opening Of "Hot Feet" Source:Getty

Broadway star and Hinton Battle died on Jan. 30 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to Hollywood Reporter.

The Tony-winning performer died at 67 after battling an undisclosed illness, which the family intends to keep private.

Hinton Battle was most known for his role as The Scarecrow in Broadway‘s The Wiz, which was his Broadway debut. He would later appear in works such as Sophisticated Ladies (1981), The Tap Dance Kid (1984) and Miss Saigon (1991). Battle won Tonys in the category of featured actor in a musical for all three productions. The actor, director, producer and choreographer also won an NAACP Image Award and was a SAG and Critics Choice nominee, who worked on the 2007 movie musical Dreamgirls.

38. Marlena Shaw

Marlena Shaw Source:Getty

It is in that context that the legendary jazz and R&B singer Marlena Shaw died on Sunday at 81.

Marlena Shaw’s death was confirmed on Facebook in a video posted by her daughter, Marla Bradshaw. However, the cause of Marlena Shaw’s death was not immediately reported.

“It’s with a very heavy heart for myself and my family I announce that our beloved mother, your beloved icon and artist Marlena Shaw has passed away today at 12:03,” Bradshaw said in the video. “She was peaceful. We were at peace.”

Bradshaw added: “She went listening to some of her favorite songs.”

Marlena Shaw’s record label, Verve Records, released a statement remembering the late singer’s legacy.

“We are saddened by the passing of Marlena Shaw, a wonderful singer whose ‘California Soul’ is as popular today as it ever was and whose album ‘It Is Love: Recorded Live At Vine St.’ helped relaunch the Verve label in 1987.”

The label also called her “a wonderful singer whose ‘California Soul’ is as popular today as it ever was and whose album ‘It Is Love: Recorded Live At Vine St.’ helped relaunch the Verve label in 1987.”

Marlena Shaw was best known for her 1969 song “California Soul, which has been sampled by some of hip-hop’s names including Gang Starr, Stereo MC and Diplo. 

Marlena Shaw also co-authored the popular song “Woman of the Ghetto, which was similarly widely sampled among rap artists. 

Her footprint in the music industry is bigger than most may have realized. Marlena Shaw has toured for more than 50 years and has 17 albums across eight different labels.

The social media account for Sister Sledge mourned the death of Shaw.

“So sorry to hear that Jazz icon Marlena Shaw has passed away. What a powerhouse of soul, sass and tenderness! Such a powerful legacy she leaves behind. Deepest condolences to her family and loved ones,” a message of condolences said.

May Marlena Shaw’s legacy in music live on forever.

39. Dexter Scott King

Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner 20th Anniversary Holiday Observance Source:Getty

Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and equally missed Coretta Scott King, died on Jan. 22 following an extensive battle with prostate cancer. He was 62.

40. Josephine Wright

Josephine Wright Source:GoFundMe/Charise Graves

Josephine Wright, an elderly Black woman who famously sued a real estate developer she accused of attempting to harass her into selling her property in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina—a property she says has been in her family since just after the Civil War—died on Jan. 7. She was 94.

41. Reggie Wells, celebrity stylist

Reggie Wells, Emmy-winning stylist to the likes of Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Halle Berry and most notably Oprah Winfrey on a personal level for more than 30 years, died on Jan. 8. He was 76 years old.

42. Jerry Wade, radio DJ

In Loving Tribute to Jerry Wade - The Ultimate Loverman Source:n/a

Indianapolis disc jockey Jerry Wade, host of WTLC’s The Quiet Storm with The Loverman Jerry Wade for over 40 years, died at the age of 61. his death was confirmed by his family on Jan. 8. 

via WTLC:

“While on the air, Jerry was ‘Mr. Loverman,’ a charismatic, deep-voiced, radio disc jockey, gracing the airwaves Sunday through Thursday with the ‘sexiest show in the city.’ But off-air, Jerry made everyone else feel like they were the superstar. ‘The Loverman’ was the personality, but if there he had an alter-ego it was just ‘Jerry.’ An ego-less man who loved Indianapolis and wanted to see people smile. What most listeners didn’t know, was Jerry’s giving heart. Jerry was also the Executive Director of ‘Quality of Life,’ an Adult Day Center on the east side of Indianapolis. If that wasn’t enough Jerry was also an entrepreneur, as the owner of several salons known as ‘Hot Cuts’ and of course ‘Jerry Wade Live’ his mobile DJ service. And a real life ‘Hitch’ as through his date coach services he connected and reconnected countless relationships.”