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UPDATED: 11:10 a.m. ET, Oct. 7 —

While death is inevitably a part of life, that truth doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to those who have died. We commemorate some of the notable Black folks who have died in 2020 is meant to pay homage to their contributions in life that will live on well after their deaths.

Johnny Nash, the singer and songwriter responsible for the ubiquitous hit, “I Can See Clearly Now,” nearly 50 years ago has died at the age of 80. The artist who was also an actor and producer died of natural causes on Tuesday, Oct. 6, according to the Associated Press, which credited him for helping to launch the career of Bob Marley.

After arriving in the U.S. in 1966, Marley teamed up with Nash and nabbed a deal with CBS Records before the reggae legend and his Wailers band went on tour with the American singer.

“I Can See Clearly Now” became a Number 1 hit in 1972 and went on to be featured in many commercials, movies and at large in popular culture.

Legendary NFL running back Gale Sayers has died at the age of 77, ESPN reported. The former Chicago Bears star was “considered one of the greatest running backs in the history of the NFL despite a career cut short by knee injuries,” ESPN wrote. Sayers died after having battled dementia since being diagnosed in 2013.

Chicago Bears

Source: Focus On Sport / Getty

Sayers played for the Chicago Bears from 1965-71 after setting records at the University of Kansas and earning the nickname, the “Kansas Comet.” He was a first-round pick in the 1965 NFL draft. In his rookie season, he set a league record by scoring 22 total touchdowns and gained 2,272 all-purpose yards; he was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year.

In 1973, Sayers was elected to the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame, the first Black athlete to be so honored. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1977 and later that year into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the youngest inductee in its history at the time.

Roy Hammond, a soul singer, songwriter and producer whose song “Impeach the President” went on to provide a standard beat widely used in hip-hop music for decades, died Sept. 16 at the age of 81. The New York Times reported that his cause of death was liver cancer.

 

The sports world suffered back to back blows when baseball icon Lou Brock died Sept. 6 just about a week after college basketball coaching legend John Thompson‘s death. Brock was 81 years old. ESPN reminded readers that “Brock retired in 1979 as the single-season and all-time leader in stolen bases” and “was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1985.”

Thompson died Aug. 31 at the age of 78. He first started coaching high school before Georgetown University hired him in 1972, ultimately going on to become the first Black head coach to win an NCAA championship when Georgetown beat the University of Houston in 1985. Read more about his life here.

Days earlier, actor Chadwick Boseman died after a yearslong battle with colon cancer. He died Aug. 28 at the age of 43.

 

Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has died following a brief battle with the coronavirus. He died July 30 at the age of 74. Cain, who was also the former chair of the Kansas City Federal Reserve as well as the one-time chief executive of the Godfather’s Pizza chain, was a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump. He may have contracted the coronavirus after attending a heavily attended rally for Trump without wearing a mask.

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Source: NICHOLAS KAMM / Getty

 

Cain’s death occurred on the same day that Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the iconic civil rights pioneer who went on to become one of the most powerful men in Congress, was being buried in Atlanta. Lewis died on July 17 at the age of 80 following a battle with Stage IV pancreatic cancer that he announced late last year. You can read more about his legendary life by clicking here.

 

Jas Waters, a television writer also known as “JasFly” who penned scripts for hit shows like “This Is Us,” has died, according to reports. She was just 39 years old. Waters’ death was confirmed by the verified Twitter account for “This Is Us,” which tweeted on June 10 that “The entire family was devastated to learn of Jas Waters passing. In our time together, Jas left her mark on us and ALL over the show. She was a brilliant storyteller and a force of nature. We send our deepest sympathies to her loved ones. She was one of us. RIP.”

Waters’ cause of death was not announced.

 

Wes Unseld, the venerable NBA Hall of Fame player who was the star on the Washington Bullets’ only championship team has died. The Washington Wizards announced that Unseld died June 2 “surrounded by family following lengthy health battles, most recently pneumonia.” Unseld was 74 years old.

Read the full statement below.

 

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, a former longtime butler who worked in the White House, died following complications from the coronavirus. He was 91 years old. Jerman served 11 presidents, including Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black commander-in-chief. Fox News reported that “Jerman worked at the White House from 1957 to 2012 as a cleaner, a doorman, and butler.”

 

Betty Wright, the award-winning R&B soul singer whose signature song went on to become a sampling standard in hip-hop music, died Sunday morning. She was 66 years old. Wright, whose cause of death was not immediately reported, had a career that spanned decades and evolved from its gospel roots to rhythm and blues to pop, the latter of which won her a pair of Grammy Awards.

As Bossip noted, Wright’s hit song from 1971, “Clean Up Woman,” has been sampled in music by contemporary artists ranging from Mary J Blige to Beyonce and still stands the test of time as a classic song in its own right.

Wright’s death came after several other celebrated members of the Black music community also recently died. Legendary rock n’ roll pioneer Little Richard died May 9 at the age of 87. The reports of his death followed that of iconic hip-hop executive Andre Harrell, who discovered Sean “Diddy” Combs. Harrell was 59 and died May 8.

Another of the most recent deaths reported was for legendary soul singer Bill Withers. He was 81 years old.

 

Some other notable Black folks who have died this year include the legendary NBA champion Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. The former Los Angeles Lakers star was just 41 years old. Emergency personnel responded to the accident, but there were no survivors. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was on the helicopter along with seven other people who all died, as well.

But there are others who died after living a full life of notable contributions to society, such as Katherine Johnson, the pioneering “Hidden Figures” NASA mathematician who died Feb. 24 at 101 years old. “She was an American hero and her pioneering legacy will never be forgotten,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote in a tweet when announcing her death.

B. Smith, the restaurateur, lifestyle maven and esteemed businesswoman, died in February, according to her husband, Dan Gasby, who announced the news of his wife’s passing in a Facebook post. “It is with great sadness that my daughter Dana and I announce the passing of my wife, Barbara Elaine Smith,” he wrote. “B. died peacefully Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 10:50 pm, of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in our home in Long Island, New York. She was 70.”

Up-and-coming Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, known for his record “Welcome To The Party” was shot and killed in Hollywood Hills on the morning of Feb. 19. The rapper was at a Hollywood Hills home that he may have been renting when at least four men were suspected of breaking into the property wearing hoodies and masks, according to law enforcement sources. Multiple fires were shot, striking and critically wounding the Brooklyn rapper. The men, who have not yet been identified, were seen fleeing the scene on foot. It is unclear Pop Smoke he knew his killers. However, it has been reported that there was a party or gathering at the home before the alleged home invasion took place.

Pop Smoke was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood, where he was pronounced dead. He was 20 years old.

Famed actress Ja’Net DuBois, who played the role of Willona Woods on “Good Times,” died Feb. 18 at the age of 74. DuBois reportedly unexpectedly died in her sleep while at her Glendale, California home.

 

The new year began tragically with the suspected drug overdose death on Jan. 1 of Nick Gordon, who was most famous for his relationship with Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown. He was only 30.

Scroll down to learn more about some of the other notable Black folks who have died this year.

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Notable Deaths 2019

Notable Deaths 2018

Notable Deaths 2017

1. Johnny Nash, chart-topping singer, 80

Johnny Nash, whose smash hit song, “I Can See Clearly Now,” went on to become a worldwide anthem, died from natural causes  Oct. 6 at the age of 80. 

The Associated Press reported that the 1972 song was “written by Nash while recovering from cataract surgery.” The song was performed by everybody from Ray Charles to Jimmy Cliff.

His relationship with Bob Marley was well documented.

“Nash brought Marley to London in the early 1970s when Nash was the bigger star internationally and with Marley gave an impromptu concert at a local boys school. Nash’s covers of ‘Stir It Up’ and ‘Guava Jelly’ helped expose Marley’s writing to a general audience. The two also collaborated on the ballad ‘You Poured Sugar On Me,’ which appeared on the ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ album,” the AP wrote in its obituary.

2. Gale Sayers, former Chicago Bears star and football legend, 77

Chicago Bears Source:Getty

Legendary NFL running back Gale Sayers has died at the age of 77 after battling dementia since being diagnosed in 2013. He played for the Chicago Bears from 1965-71 after setting records at the University of Kansas and earning the nickname, the “Kansas Comet.” 

In September 2013, Sayers sued the NFL, claiming the league negligently handled his repeated head injuries during his career. The case was withdrawn after Sayers claimed it was filed without his permission, but he filed a new lawsuit in January 2014 along with six other former players.

 

3. Pamela Hutchinson, singer, 61

The Emotions Source:Getty

Pamela Hutchinson, a singer in the R&B trio The Emotions, died on Sept.18 at the age of 61. TV One reported that she died following “health challenges she’d been battling for several years.”

Read more about Pamela Hutchinson’s life by clicking here.

Picturd: The Emotions, from left: Pamela Hutchinson, Wanda Hutchinson and Sheila Hutchinson.

4. Steve Carter, playwright, 90

The New York Times reports:

“Steve Carter, an award-winning playwright who explored the African-American and Caribbean-American experiences with incisiveness, humor and a willingness to wrestle with difficult themes, including hatred, revenge and forgiveness, died on Tuesday in Tomball, Texas. He was 90.”

5. Roy Hammond, singer, 81

The New York Times reports:

“Roy Hammond, a soul singer, songwriter and producer with an impressive catalog in the 1960s and ’70s who produced a song that became one of hip-hop’s foundational samples, died on Wednesday at his home in Allendale, S.C. He was 81.”

6. Toots Hibbert, reggae singer, 77

Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix - Live Performances: Day One Source:Getty

Toots Hibbert, a reggae icon who was the lead singer of the Maytals, died Sept. 11 in Jamaica following hospitalization with symptoms consistent with the coronavirus. However, there was no cause of death immediately reported.

Hibbert’s family made the announcement Sept. 11 on the Facebook page for Toots & the Maytals:

“It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert passed away peacefully tonight, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

“The family and his management team would like to thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence, and ask that you respect their privacy during their time of grief.
 
“Mr. Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and his seven of eight children.”

7. Lou Brock, baseball legend, 81

Lou Brock, who stole the second-most number of bases during his legendary career that spanned nearly two decades and included leading the St. Louis Cardinals to two World Series wins in the 1960s, died Sept. 6. He was 81 years old.

8. Sylvester Francis, cultural historian, 73

Sylvester Francis Source:YouTube/Mike Yearling

“Sylvester Francis, the founder of the small but highly respected Backstreet Cultural museum that features an array of exhibits from various aspects of African American culture in New Orleans neighborhoods,” died Sept. 2 at the age of 73,” the Associated Press reported.

9. James S. Jackson, psychologist

James S. Jackson, the Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, and Director and Research Professor of the Institute for Social Research, has died, according to a tweet from the Program for Research on Black Americans.

According to Jackson’s official bio on the National Science Board’s website, the social psychologist has held the following past positions: Chair, Social Psychology Training Program and Director of the Research Center for Group Dynamics, the Program for Research on Black Americans, and the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, all at the University of Michigan; Chair of the Section on Social, Economic, and Political Sciences of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Chair of the Section on Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Task Force on Minority Issues of the Geronontological Society of America, the Committee on International Relations and the Association for the Advancement of Psychology of the American Psychological Association; and National President of the Association of Black Psychologists and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). He was also president of the Consortium of Social Science Associations at the time of his death.

10. John Thompson, basketball coaching legend, 78

Georgetown Hoyas Source:Getty

John Thompson, the legendary college basketball coach at Georgetown University who became the first Black head coach to win an NCAA championship, has died at the age of 78. He reportedly died Aug. 31. His cause of death was not immediately reported.

Thompson is not only responsible for the careers of dozens of NBA players, but he is also responsible for championing their educations and amassing a graduation rate for his mostly Black players of 97 percent. He coached stars like Allen Iverson and Patrick Ewing and helped the future #1 NBA picks to realize their individual greatness both on and off the court.

11. Chadwick Boseman, actor, 43

(FILE) Chadwick Boseman Dead at 43 After Battle With Colon Cancer. HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNI... Source:WENN

Chadwick Boseman, an actor who portrayed a number of Black historical figures but came to prominence by starring in the blockbuster hit “Black Panther,” died Aug. 28 at the age of 43 after a yearslong battle with colon cancer.

The Howard University graduate has filmed movies in which he’s starred as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, to name but a few. His young age of death drew attention to the racial disparities associated with colon cancer, which disproportionately affects Black people.

12. Chi Chi DeVayne, reality TV star, 34

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 8 Finale Party Source:Getty

Chi Chi DeVayne, a star on the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” TV show, has died at the age of 34. DeVayne’s mother confirmed the death to CNN. However, the cause of death was not immediately announced.

Born Zavion Davenport, DeVayne was featured in two seasons of the reality-contest show that rewards its winner with tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.

13. Bob Ryland, first Black tennis pro, 100

Bob Ryland, the first Black tennis player to go professional, died Aug. 2. He was 100 years old. The Washington Post reported that Ryland’s cause of death stemmed from “complications from aspiration pneumonia.”

14. Herman Cain, former presidential candidate, 74

Herman Cain died July 30 at the age of 74 after being hospitalized with the coronavirus. The former presidential candidate, who was once considered by President Donald Trump for the Federal Reserve, was hospitalized in Atlanta on July 1, just two days after testing positive for COVID-19. Less than two weeks before receiving his diagnosis, Cain attended a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was surrounded by other attendees, none of whom were wearing a mask or protective gear.

Cain, a survivor of stage 4 colon cancer, was a business executive and board chairman of a branch of Kansas City’s Federal Reserve Bank before becoming involved in Republican politics. He ran for president as a Republican in 2000 and 2012. Prior to that, Cain was a high ranking executive with several food companies, including working at the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza for more than a decade.

15. Stanley Robinson, former college basketball star, 32

Stanley Robinson died at the age of 32, according to reports on July 22. There was no cause or date of death immediately reported for the former college basketball star and professional basketball player.

16. John Lewis, civil rights icon and longtime Congressman, 80

John Lewis At Podium Addressing Marchers Source:Getty

Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the iconic civil rights pioneer who went on to become one of the most powerful men in Congress, has died. He was 80 years old. Lewis died July 17 following a battle with Stage IV pancreatic cancer that he announced late last year. You can read more about his legendary life by clicking here.

 

Pictured: John Lewis, Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, speaking at the Lincoln Memorial to participants in the March on Washington.

17. Rev. C.T. Vivian, civil rights pioneer associated with Martin Luther King, 95

Rev. C.T. Vivian Source:Getty

The Rev. C.T. Vivian, a civil rights leader whose close association with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped fuel efforts toward achieving racial equality, died July 17 at the age of 95. Click here to read more about his life.

Pictured: Rev. Vivian recalls his civil rights experiences from the pulpit of the renovated Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Jan. 19, 2002.

18. Jas ‘JasFly’ Waters, TV writer, 39

Jas Waters, a television writer and former journalist who rose to prominence as a cast member on the reality TV show, “Gossip Game,” has died at the age of 39. The cause and date of her death were unclear. According to her IMDB page, Waters used to write for the hit TV show “This Is Us” before moving on to writing for the Showtime series, “KIDDING.”

“Waters spent 9 years working in Film Production and Television Development, on everything from Spiderman 1 & 2, Hardball, Save The Last Dance, MTV’s Real World, Barbershop 1 & 2 and the NBC’s ER,” her IMDB page says. “In 2007, Waters created her own entertainment blog, which ran for three years averaging 700,000 views a day and in 2012, Waters landed her own column in VIBE Magazine.”

May she rest in peace.

19. Wes Unseld, NBA Hall of Famer, 74

Washington Bullets Source:Getty

Wes Unseld, the legendary NBA center who led the Washington Bullets to the franchise’s only championship, died June 2. He was 74 years old. 

20. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler, 91

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, a former longtime butler who worked in the White House, died in May following complications from the coronavirus. He was 91 years old. Jerman served 11 presidents, including Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black commander-in-chief. Fox News reported that “Jerman worked at the White House from 1957 to 2012 as a cleaner, a doorman, and butler.”

21. Shad Gaspard, pro wrestler, 39

Kris Wolfe Book Release For "10 Ways To Win A Girl's Heart" Source:Getty

Shad Gaspard, a professional wrestler-turned actor and author, was found dead on May 20 after he went missing while swimming at a beach in California. He was just 39 years old.

22. Gregory Tyree Boyce, actor, 30

LA Fashion Week Fashion Minga 2012 Event Source:Getty

Actor Gregory Tyree Boyce was found dead in his Las Vegas condo on May 13. Boyce was 30 years old. He and his girlfriend were found dead together. Natalie Adepoju was 27 years old. There was no cause of death reported with the deaths. Boyce was best known for his roles in the movies “Twilight” in 2008 and “Apocalypse” in 2018.

23. Bob Watson, former MLB star and manager, 74

Houston Astros v Philadelphia Phillies Source:Getty

Bob Watson, the former Houston Astros star player and general manager, died May 14. He was 74 years old. The cause of death was kidney disease.

24. Fred L. Davis, civil rights activist and Memphis official, 86

Fred L. Davis, the former longtime Memphis city council member and civil rights activist who marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., died  May 12 following an illness. He was 86 years old. The Associated Press reported that “Davis sought a city resolution for the Memphis sanitation workers who went on strike in early 1968 to protest dangerous working conditions and low pay. The strike drew King to Memphis, and Davis joined the civil rights leader on a march down Beale Street that turned violent on March 28, 1968.”

25. Ty, Nigerian rapper in the UK, 47

Ty, a celebrated rapper in the UK who was an elder statesman of the local hip-hop scene, died May 7 following complications from the coronavirus. He was 47 years old.

According to the BBC, “Ty contracted coronavirus earlier this year, and a fundraising page set up in April said he had been ‘put in a medically induced coma to temporarily sedate to help his body receive the appropriate treatment.'”

26. Jimmy Glenn, boxing trainer, 89

The New York Premiere of HBO Documentary's "Ali & Cavett" Source:Getty

Jimmy Glenn, the legendary boxing trainer who worked with some of the sport’s top fighters, died following complications from the coronavirus. He was 89 years old. Glenn had become a celebrated bar owner in New York City’s Times Square called Jimmy’s Corner. The Boxing Scene website reported Glenn’s death first.

27. Heyward Dotson, Columbia University basketball legend, 71

The New York Times reported that “Heyward Dotson, who helped lift Columbia University’s basketball team to its only Ivy League title, in 1968, and who later attended the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, died on May 1 in the Bronx. He was 71.”

28. Betty Wright, singer, 66

Betty Wright CIRCA 1970: Photo of Betty Wright Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images Source:Getty

 

Betty Wright, the award-winning R&B soul singer whose signature song went on to become a sampling standard in hip-hop music, died Sunday morning. She was 66 years old. Wright, whose cause of death was not immediately reported, had a career that spanned decades and evolved from its gospel roots to rhythm and blues to pop, the latter of which won her a pair of Grammy Awards.

29. Little Richard, rock n’ roll pioneer, 87

Little Richard Source:Getty

Little Richard, the eccentric singer and musician who was an early pioneer of rock n’ roll, died May 9. The man who recorded inter-generational and timeless hits like “Tutti Frutti” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” was 87 years old.

30. Andre Harrell, hip-hop executive, 59

The Recording Academy And Clive Davis' 2019 Pre-GRAMMY Gala - Arrivals Source:Getty

Andre Harrell, the man responsible for the iconic careers of Diddy, Mary J Blige, Jodeci and dozens of others, died May 8. He was 59 years old. You can read more about him by clicking here.

31. Bob Andy, reggae singer, 75

Bob Andy Performs In New York Source:Getty

Bob Andy, a legendary reggae singer and songwriter, died March 27. He was 75 and died following “a short illness,” according to the Guardian. As part of duo Bob & Marcia with Marcia Griffiths, Andy “reached No 5 in the UK in 1970 with Young, Gifted and Black, an uptempo recording of the Nina Simone original. They also reached No 11 in 1971 with Pied Piper, which spent 13 weeks in the charts.”

32. Tony Allen, legendary African drummer, 79

Tony Allen Source:Getty

Tony Allen, a pioneering percussionist from West Africa whose signature drumming pattern helped discover and fine-tune the Afrobeat genre of music, died April 30. His manager told the New York Times that Allen died following an aneurysm. He was 79 years old.

33. Al Edwards, former Texas State Rep. and Juneteenth champion, 83

Al Edwards, who as a Texas State Representative successfully wrote a bill to mark Juneteenth as the first Black emancipation celebration to receive official state recognition, died April 29. He was 83 years old. Edwards dies of natural causes, the Houston Defender reported.

34. Stezo, rapper and pioneering hip-hop dancer, 51

Steve Williams, the old school rapper who was more popularly known as Stezo, has reportedly died April 29 at the age of 51. Not only known for a series of cult hits in the late 1980s, but Stezo was also an accomplished hip-hop dancer who famously showed off his fancy footwork in the music video for EPMD’s “You Gots To Chill” in 1988. There was an outpouring of support and condolences posted to social media.

35. Mike Huckaby, techno and house music pioneer and DJ, 54

“DJ Mike Huckaby, whose soulful, studied work made him one of the prominent early figures in Detroit techno and house music, died [April 24] after a lengthy hospitalization following a stroke,” the Detroit Free press reported. Huckaby tested positive for the coronavirus while he was hospitalized. He was 54 years old.

36. Don “Campbellock” Campbell, creator of locking dance style, 69

Don Campbell, the creator of locking, which later became a prominent feature of breakdancing, died on March 30, the New York Times reported. He was 69 years old. Campbell’s nickname was “Campbellock,” which was ultimately shortened to simply “locking,” the pioneering dance moves that came before “popping, b-boying and other styles that are often collected under the label hip-hop,” the Times wrote. 

37. Cheryl A. Wall, literary scholar, 71

Cheryl A. Wall, an award-winning scholar of African American literature and a Board of Governors Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English at Rutgers University, died April 18. She was 71 years old and had planned to retire at the end of this school year, according to the university.

38. Gil Bailey, radio pioneer

Gil Bailey, the radio broadcaster and personality known as “The G0dfather” died April 13. His death came from complications after contracting the coronavirus, according to Jamaica Observer. The native Jamaican rose to prominence on radio stations with Caribbean music programming in the New York City area.

39. Grace F. Edwards, author, 87

Grace F. Edwards, a novelist whose work focused on her native Harlem, died Feb. 25. She was 87 years old. Her death was reported by the Amsterdam News on April 9.

40. Samuel Hargress Jr., owner of legendary Harlem nightclub, 83

Samuel Hargress Jr., the owner and operator of legendary New York City jazz and blues nightclub, Paris Blues, died following complications after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 83 years old. Hargress opened the club in 1969 and ran it for 51 years. The Harlem Bespoke blog reported his death.

41. Tarvaris Jackson, former NFL quarterback, 36

JERRY HOLT • jgholt@startribune.com Mankato, MN - 07/31/2010 - ] Vikings training camp 2010 - IN THIS PHOTO--]Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson during Saturday morning practice at Mankato. Source:Getty

Former NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson died in a car accident in Alabama on April 12. He was just 36. Jackson, who graduated from Alabama State University — an HBCU — played in the NFL from 2006-2015 for the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills. 

42. Chynna Marie Rogers, model turned rapper, 25

Chynna Marie Rogers, a model who later became a rapper, died April 8. She was just 25 years old. Her cause of death was reported on social media as a drug overdose.

43. Ahmed Ismail Hussein, Somali singer, 92

Ahmed Ismail Hussein, the legendary Somali singer and musician who was also popularly known as “Hudeydi,” was hospitalized in the UK after contracting the coronavirus. Nicknamed the “King of Oud,” a reference to the Arabic instrument resembling a guitar, died in a London hospital. His date of death was not immediately reported, but it was announced April 8.

44. Earl G. Graves, Sr., founder of Black Enterprise, 85

Earl G Graves, Sr Appearing In The ABC News Special 'Black Businessmen' Source:Getty

Earl G. Graves, Sr., who championed the intersection of Black people, the business world and personal finance on his way to founding the seminal Black Enterprise magazine and growing it into a bona fide multimedia conglomerate, died April 7 following complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 85 years old. Pictured: Earl G Graves, Sr. appearing in the Walt Disney Television News special “Black Businessmen.”

45. Bobby Mitchell, NFL player, 84

Bobby Mitchell, who played 11 seasons in the NFL player, died April 5 at the age of 84. Mitchell played for both the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins before he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1983.

46. Bill Withers, singer, 81

Bill Withers Source:Getty

Bill Withers, whose smooth and soulful voice brought decades of positive messages of upliftment with his award-winning music that includes the hit songs, “Lean On Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lovely Day,” has died, according to a report on April 3. He was 81. The cause of death was attributed to heart complications. Pictured: Bill Withers performs on UK TV show in London in 1972.

47. Ellis Marsalis Jr., legendary jazz pianist, 85

2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival - Day 7 Source:Getty

Ellis Marsalis Jr., a legendary jazz pianist who is also the father of accomplished jazz musicians Branford and Wynton Marsalis, died April 1 from complications after contracting the coronavirus. He was 85 years old. Pictured: Ellis Marsalis performs during the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course on May 7, 2017, in New Orleans.

48. Wallace Roney, jazz trumpeter, 59

Wallace Roney At SummerStage Source:Getty

Wallace Roney, a Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter who was associated with and influenced by the legendary Miles Davis, died March 31. His death was caused by complications after he contracted the coronavirus. He was just 59 years old. Pictured: Wallace Roney plays trumpet as he makes a guest appearance with the Ron Carter Foursight Quartet at the Blue Note Jazz Festival’s ‘The Legends Honor McCoy–McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Roy Haynes’ concert at Central Park SummerStage, New York, New York, Aug. 4, 2016.

49. Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, civil right pioneer, 99

96th Birthday Celebration For Dr. Joseph Lowery Source:Getty

The Rev. Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery, who was also known as the dean of civil rights, died March 27. Lowery was widely regarded as the top lieutenant for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and contributed to the civil rights movement in the most profound of ways that include working to end segregation on buses in Mobile, Alabama, before Rosa Parks as well as being a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He died March 27 at the age of 98. Pictured: Lowery at his 96th Birthday Celebration at Rialto Center for the Arts on October 4, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

50. Emma Cooper-Harris, first African American Mayor of Anguilla, Mississippi

Emma Cooper-Harris, who was remembered as a “community organizer” and “a civil rights icon in Mississippi,” has died. She was the first African American mayor of the Mississippi town of Anguilla and also served as a minister at a local church.

51. Fred “Curly” Neal, Harlem Globetrotters legend, 77

Celebrities Visit SiriusXM Studio Source:Getty

Fred “Curly” Neal, the Harlem Globetrotters legend who thrilled audiences with his dazzling dribbling display that included his signature move of bouncing the ball while sliding on one knee, died March 26. He was 77 years old. Pictured: Harlem Globetrotter Fred “Curly” Neal visits SiriusXM Studio on February 13, 2012, in New York City.

52. Rev. Darius L. Swann, civil rights activist, 95

The Rev. Darius L. Swann, whose opposition to segregated schools led to the busing movement, died March 8. He was 95 years old.

53. Airickca Gordon-Taylor, civil rights activist and Emmett Till’s relative, 50

Airickca Gordon-Taylor, the daughter of Emmett Till’s cousin who had a career in bringing attention to his lynching death through a charitable foundation, died March 22 after suffering from “kidney problems for decades,” according to the Associated Press. She was 50 years old.

54. Manu Dibango, saxophonist, 86

Celtic Connections Festival 2014 - Manu Dibango Performs Source:Getty

Manu Dibango, the legendary saxophonist from Cameroon known for his 1972 hit, “Soul Makossa,” died March 24 following complications from the coronavirus. He was 86. Pictured: Manu Dibango performs during Celtic Connections Festival at The Old Fruit Market on January 26, 2014, in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

55. Barbara C. Harris, Episcopal Bishop, 89

Bishop Barbara Harris... Source:Getty

Barbara C. Harris, the world’s first ordained Episcopal bishop who is a woman, died March 13. Pictured: Bishop Barbara Harris during service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Boston on Apr. 9, 1998.

56. Roger Mayweather, boxing champion and trainer, 58

Boxing - Mayweather vs. Marquez Fight Promotion Source:Getty

Roger Mayweather, a former boxing champion and boxing trainer who is also the uncle of boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, died March 17. He was 58 years old. His death came one week after Josie Harris, Floyd Mayweather’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of three of his children, was found dead in California at the age of 40.

57. Josie Harris, former longtime girlfriend of Floyd Mayweather, 40

Josie Harris, Floyd Mayweather’s former longtime girlfriend, died Monday night, according to TMZ, which reported that she was found in her car at her home in Valencia, California. She was 40 years old.

58. Barbara Neely, author, 78

“Barbara Neely, an award-winning writer best known for her groundbreaking mystery series based on a Black woman sleuth named Blanche White, died earlier on March 2 after an unspecified illness,” Madame Noire reported.

60. Sam “The Man” Burns, DC house music DJ, dies

Sam "The Man" Burns, DC house music DJ, dies Source:facebook

Sam “The Man” Burns, a legendary DJ in Washington, D.C., died March 7. Burns’ career spanned more than 40 years of spinning dance and house music in his native District of Columbia and has had a lasting effect on the city’s nightlife scene.

61. McCoy Tyner, legendary jazz pianist, 81

McCoy Tyner... Source:Getty

Legendary jazz musician and pianist, McCoy Tyner, died March 6. The renowned musician was a key figure in John Coltrane‘s jazz quartet. He was 81 years old. Pictured: McCoy Tyner performing at the Regatta Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 18, 2005.

62. Katherine Johnson, 101

“Hidden Figures” NASA mathematician died on Feb. 24 at age 101.

63. B. Smith, 70

B. Smith, restaurateur, lifestyle maven, died at age 70 after battling Alzheimer’s disease.

64. Pop Smoke, 20

Louis Vuitton : Front Row - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2020-2021 Source:Getty

Up-and-coming Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, known for his record “Welcome To The Party” was shot and killed in Hollywood Hills on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

65. Ja’Net DuBois, 74

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival Closing Night Premiere "Blackbird" Source:Getty

Famed actress Ja’Net DuBois, who played the role of Willona Woods on “Good Times,” passed away in her sleep unexpectedly on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

66. Esther Scott, 66

Premiere Of Fox Searchlight Pictures' "The Birth Of A Nation" - Arrivals Source:Getty

Esther Scott, known for her roles in “Boyz N The Hood,” “90210,” “Birth of a Nation” and more, died on Feb. 14 after suffering a heart attack days prior.

67. Nathaniel Jones, former federal judge, 93

Nathaniel Jones, a former federal judge in Cincinnati, died on Jan. 26 at the age of 93. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Jones “had a 23-year career on the federal appeals court bench in Cincinnati” and that he “never wavered in his commitment to civil rights.”

68. Kobe Bryant, NBA legend, 41

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Source:Getty

Kobe Bryant, the five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash at the age of 41. Pictured: Bryant shows off his jersey during a game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on Feb. 19, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.

69. Jimmy Heath jazz saxophonist, 93

Jimmy Heath performs at the 4th Annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Source:Getty

Jimmy Heath, a jazz saxophonist who played with the genres greats including John Coltrane and Miles Davis, died from natural causes at the age of 93. Pictured: Heath plays tenor saxophone while performing with his Big Band at the 4th Annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Tompkins Square Park in New York, New York, Aug. 25, 1996. (Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)

70. Yolanda Carr, mother of Atatiana Jefferson

Yolanda Carr and Atatiana Jefferson Source:S. Lee Merritt

Yolanda Carr, the mother of Atatiana Jefferson, who was shot and killed by a Texas police officer inside of her home, died Jan. 9. Carr’s death followed the death of Jefferson’s father, meaning the police officer effectively wiped out two generations of one family in just a few short months with his misguided shooting of Jefferson in November 2019.

71. Roscoe Vance, journalist, 71

The legendary sports journalist who covered the NBA and HBCU sports died Jan. 9 at the age of 71.

72. Nick Gordon, ex-boyfriend of Bobbi Kristina, 30

'Sparkle' - Los Angeles Premiere Source:Getty

Nick Gordon, who was most famous for his relationship with Bobbi Kristina, died on Jan. 1 of an overdose. He was 30 years old.

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