December 27, 2012

GERALDINE WASHINGTON: As President of the Los Angeles Branch of the NAACP, Dr. Washington was on the front lines of fighting the declining enrollment of African American students in the UC system. Her efforts on behalf of students spanned over 40 years and demonstrated her lifelong commitment to keeping the doors of higher education open to all.  Her legacy of service to Los Angeles, its students and the community will live on through the many lives she touched.  She was 81.  (1/5)




ETTA JAMES: Etta James’ performance of the enduring classic “At Last” was the embodiment of refined soul: Angelic-sounding strings hark­ened the arrival of her passionate yet measured vocals as she sang tenderly about a love finally realized after a long and patient wait. In real life, little about James was as genteel as that song. The platinum blonde’s first hit was a saucy R&B number about sex, and she was known as a hell-raiser who had tempestuous relationships with her family, her men and the music industry. Then she spent years battling a drug addiction that she admitted sapped away at her great talents. She was 73. (1/20)



JOHN LEVY: John Levy emanated the aura of a griot when he spoke and was the first prominent African-American per­sonal man­ager in the jazz or pop music field, whose clients in­cluded Nancy Wilson and Ramsey Lewis.  He was 99. (1/20)





LIBBY CLARK:  Elizabeth “Libby” Clark was a journalist, public relations consultant and community activist.  She retired from the Los Angeles Sentinel on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 – ending a career that has spanned some seven decades.  During that time, she worked for six of the country’s African American newspapers and one metropolitan daily: the Chester Daily Times in Pennsylvania. Other publications included the Philadelphia Tribune, Baltimore Afro-American, Pittsburgh Courier, Chicago Defender and the California Eagle.  She was 94. (1/23)





DON CORNELIUS: Don Cornelius created the long-running R&B and dance-music showcase Soul Train.  He was trained as a journalist on WVON, an African-American talk radio station in his native Chicago.  Cornelius conceived of Soul Train during the Civil Rights movement, noting there was no showcase for black music on national television.  Soul Train debuted in 1971 and quickly became a popular stop for major acts such as James Brown, the O'Jays and Michael Jackson. Cornelius hosted the show from its inception until 1993; Soul Train ended its long run in its original form in 2006.  He was 75 (2/1)







WHITNEY HOUSTON: Whitney Houston ruled as pop music's queen from the mid-1980s until the 1990s.  She had a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown. Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale." She was described as having the perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal, but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.  She was 48 (2/11)



DICK ANTHONY WILLIAMS:  Dick Anthony Williams WAS a veteran actor perhaps best known for his role as Pretty Tony in “The Mack. He had an extensive career on stage, films and television. Williams’ film credits include “Five on the Black Hand Side,” “The Jerk,” “Mo’ Better Blues” and “Edward Scissorhands,” among others. He was 77 (2/16)







DONALD PAYNE: He was the U.S. Rep­re­sen­tative for New Jersey’s 10th congressional district, serving from 1989 until his death. He was a member of the Demo­cratic Party. His district encompasses most of the city of Newark, parts of Jersey City and Elizabeth, and some suburban communities in Essex and Union counties. He was the first African American to represent New Jersey in Congress. He was 78 (3/6)






JOHN PAYTON: Payton was president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and guided it to several major victories before the Supreme Court.  He lived in Washington, D.C.  He was 65 (3/22)







WALTER GORDON: One the great lawyers of the 20th century.  In addition to successfully defending thousands of Blacks during his long career, Gordon left several other enduring legacies. One of the more prominent among them was mentoring a generation of young, African-American lawyers from the 1940s forward. He was 103 (4/16)





DONNA SUMMER: Summer, known as the Disco Queen, was the first artist to have three double albums reach No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart: “Live and More,” “Bad Girls,” “On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II.” She became a cultural icon, not only as one of the defining voices of the era, but also as an influence on future pop divas from Madonna to Beyoncé.  She was 63 (5/17)





BISHOP H. HARTFORD BROOKINS: He was a religious leader, a preacher in the church; and a civil leader outside the church. He dealt with civic matters outside of the church, and has traveled the historical path of icons of the civil rights struggles, who have pastored their flocks and served their constituents above and beyond.  Bishop Brookins walked with kings, presidents, princes,  paupers and the downtrodden.  He was 86 (5/22)





FRANK HOLOMAN: Holoman was a member of the California State Assembly and a Democrat from Los Angeles from 1972 to 1974. His interests in urban im­prove­ment and local government led him to pursue these causes in the Legislature as well as through his position as chair of the Black Caucus of Southern California.  He was 78 (5/24)








RODNEY KING: A Black man who be­came a symbol of racial tension and police brutality in America, after his beating by Los Angeles police officers in 1991 was videotaped and broadcast to the nation.  He was 47 (6/17)





WILLIAM RASPBERRY:  William Raspberry was one of the nation's first African Ameri­can columnists at a major metropolitan daily newspaper.  He was a Wash­ing­ton-Post columnist for four decades, many of them as a syndicated writer; he won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1994.  He was first nominated for the award in 1982.  He was 76 (7/17)







WILLIS EDWARDS:  Willis Ed­wards’ center of activity was the NAACP.   His activist role in the organization has earned him the title in some circles, as “Mr NAACP.” His mother started an NAACP branch in Palm Springs, CA and her rule was “you go to church and you go to the NAACP meetings.”  He understood the importance its work as the oldest civil rights organization in the country its history regarding Black Americans.  He was 66 (7/20)





SHERMAN HELMSLEY: Hem­sley’s best-known role was as George Jeffer­son, the owner of a dry cleaning business who lived in a New York luxury high-rise apartment with his family. “The Jeffersons” ran on television from 1975 to 1985.  He was 74 (7/24)








JOHN ATTA MILLS: John Evans Fifii Atta Mills 24 July 2012) was a Ghanaian politician who was president of Ghana from 2009 until his death. He was inaugurated on 7 January 2009, having defeated the ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in the 2008 election.  He was vice-president from 1997 to 2001 under President Jerry Rawlings. He is the first Ghanaian head of state to die in office. He was 60 (7/24)





AL FREEMAN JR: Al Freeman Jr. emerged during the civil rights era and made his mark in both drama and race relations with his portraits of some of the movement’s most controversial personalities — Malcolm X in a television drama, and Elijah Muhammad in Spike Lee’s 1992 movie “Malcolm X”. He was 78. (8/9)








LARRY GRANT: After a career in banking and serving in the U.S. military, Larry Grant founded The Kingdom Day Parade in re­mem­brance of the life and legacy of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King along with his wife, Coretta Scott King.  It is celebrated annually on King’s birthday.  He was 86. (8/18)


Chris Lighty: Chris Lighty, 44, called one of “the most influential talent managers” by Forbes magazine in 2006, was found dead in the backyard of his home in River­dale, N.Y. The New York City medical examiner ruled his death the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But many of those who knew him well don’t agree. Famous friends such as 50 Cent, Russell Simmons, Q-Tip, and Busta Rhymes have reportedly all joined Lighty’s mother and family in questioning how he died. (8/30)





EDWARD “ED” VINCENT:  First Black Mayor of Inglewood. 78 (8/31)






MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN:  Was a world-famous actor most known for his breakout role as John Coffey in “The Green Mile.”  He 54 (9/3)







MERVYN M. DYMALLY: He was a political icon who opened many doors and mentored many elected officials throughout his 50 plus year career.  His passing has left a void in California and indeed national politics.  He was an assemblyman (twice); state senator, Lt. Governor, and congressman.  He was 86. (10/7)






Emanuel Steward:  He was an American boxer, legendary trainer, and world-famous commentator.  He trained 41 world champion fighters throughout his career, most notably Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko, and Tommy “Hitman” Hearns. (10/25).


Category: News