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In Memoriam 2014  was originally published on

1. TiTi Branch

TiTi Branch

Co-founder of the successful natural haircare line Miss Jessie’s, Branch passed away from an apparent suicide at age 45. Prior to starting her own business with her sister, the Queens-born entrepreneur worked as a field producer for WABC-TV in New York City.

2. Michel Du Cille

Michel Du Cille

Du Cille broke barriers for African Americans in the realm of photography as a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner for photography. and Washington Post photojournalist Michel du Cille has passed away. Du Cille reportedly died in Liberia while covering the Ebola outbreak and died after a longtime battle with multiple myeloma bone cancer.

3. Lowell C. Steward

Lowell C. Steward

A former member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, Steward flew nearly 150 missions over Europe during World War II. Steward died at 95 years old. He went on to become one of the first Black real estate agents in Los Angeles and worked for over 40 years in the field.

4. Annie Lee

Annie Lee

Widely known for her paintings especially “Blue Monday,” Lee’s trademark was her uncanny ability to depict emotions without faces. Her work has been featured on the sets of “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World.”

5. Marion Barry

Marion Barry

Feted as “Washington’s Mayor for Life,” Barry served four terms as the mayor of Washington DC and three terms as city council member. His life was dedicated to civil rights, empowerment and improving the city he loved.

6. Jimmy Ruffin

Jimmy Ruffin

Ruffin was an American soul singer widely known for hits like “What Becomes of a Brokenheart” and “Hold On (To My Love).” He was the elder brother of David Ruffin; a member of The Temptations; both were signed to Motown Records.

7. Big Bank Hank

Big Bank Hank

Born Henry Lee Jackson, Hank was one third of The Sugar Hill Gang, the first rap group to have a cross-over single, “Rapper’s Delight.” The genre of hip-hop today is an international cultural force and billion dollar business.

8. Myles Munroe

Myles Munroe

Founder of Bahamas Faith Ministries International and CEO of International Third World Leaders Association, the Pentecostal preacher was also the author of several books. He is depicted here with his wife Ruth, who perished with him in a plane crash.

9. Orlando Thomas

Orlando Thomas

Thomas played in the NFL as a defensive back from 1995 – 2001. Throughout his entire career, he played on the Minnesota Vikings, where he started in 87 of 98 games, intercepting 22 passes in his career.

10. Michael Sata

Michael Sata

Sata was the fifth President of Zambia. As a social democrat, he served as leader of the Patriotic Front (PF), a major political party in Zambia.

11. John Holt

John Holt

Holt was one of Jamaica’s biggest reggae singers and songwriters. He is known for hits like “Stick By Me” and reggae cover versions of popular music.

12. Geoffrey Holder

Geoffrey Holder

A man of many talents, Holder performed in movies, stage, and TV, and expressed himself through art, music, and dance. He won two Tonys for directing Broadway’s “The Wiz.”

13. Comer Cottrell

Comer Cottrell

Cottrell was businessman widely known for founding the Pro-Line Corporation, a hair care company that lead to the advent of the jheri curl during the 70s and 80s.

14. Kamara James

Kamara James

James was a Jamaican-born Olympic fencer who battled schizophrenia. She was the only woman to represent the U.S. in fencing in the 2004 Olympics; through her talent, she received a scholarship to Princeton University.

15. Alice Coachman Davis

Alice Coachman Davis

Davis became the first black woman to win an Olympic medal in the 1948 games. On the track and field, she specialized in high jump and won national championships for Tuskegee University.

16. Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers

Over his 45 year career, Myers wrote more 100 books for children and young adults. His work earned him six Coretta Scott King Awards, two Newbery Honors and three National Book Award Finalists.

17. Meshach Taylor

Meshach Taylor

Taylor was an Emmy-nominated American actor known widely for his role as Anthony Bouvier on Designing Women.

18. Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack

Womack led a musical career for more than 50 years. He is best known for hits like “Across 110th Street,” “Woman’s Gotta Have It,” and “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.”

19. Horace Silver

Horace Silver

Silver was one of the most influential American jazz pianists and composers of the 1950s and 60s. He is known for his unique sound and compositional style, and his contribution to the style of hard bop.

20. Tony Gwynn

Tony Gwynn

For 20 seasons, Gwynn played Major League Baseball for the San Diego Padres.

21. Rodney Thomas

Rodney Thomas

Thomas was a NFL football player. For seven seasons, he played as running back for the Tennessee Titans, Houston Oilers, and Atlanta Falcons.

22. Rich Nichols

Rich Nichols

For more than two decades, Nichols managed and produced for The Roots until his passing from leukemia. The hip-hop band called him “the guiding spirit behind the group.”

23. Jimmy Scott

Jimmy Scott

Also known as “Little Jimmy Scott,” he was an American jazz vocalist who sang lead for the Lionel Hampton Band in the 1940s. A rare genetic condition blessed him with a contralto pitched voice made for ballads and love songs.

24. Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Dee was an American actress widely known for her role as Ruth Younger in the 1961 film “A Raisin in the Sun.” She’s also known for the civic and civil rights work that she did alongside her husband, actor Ossie Davis.

25. Cahron Childs

Cahron Childs

Known as JayAre of the Cali Swag District (far left), best known for the hit song “Teach Me How to Dougie,” Childs passed away from sickle cell anemia.

26. Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Angelou was a most beloved poet, award-winning author and mentor. She was best known for her acclaimed memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

27. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

At the pinnacle of his career, boxer Rubin Carter was wrongly convicted of rape. He spent two decades in jail but was exonerated in 1985 and became an activist for those who also suffer wrongful imprisonment.

28. William “Bunny Rugs” Clark

William “Bunny Rugs” Clark

Before launching his solo career, Clark was the lead singer of Jamaican reggae band Third World.

29. Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka

An African-American poet, activist and scholar, Baraka (born LeRoi Jones) was an influential black nationalist. For almost fifty years, his work focused on topics important to, and worthy of, black people.

30. Juanita Moore

Juanita Moore

Moore was an American film, television, and stage actress. She is known primarily for her role as Annie Johnson in the movie “Imitation of Life.”

31. James Avery

James Avery

Avery was an American TV actor widely known for his role as Judge Philip Banks in the sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”