December 24, 2021

Honoring Black Cultural Figures We Lost in 2021

Cody Blanc
Photo By:Photo Attributed

The year is nearly over, and there have been some major ups and downs. We’ve seen a feeble attempt to overthrow the government, a literal plague of locusts, wildfires across several nations, and unfortunately, more resistant strains of COVID-19. The black community has had our fair share of upheaval as well, and we’ve said goodbye to some truly great minds and incredible talents this year. Let’s look back at some of the great cultural figures that the black community has lost in 2021.

1: Cicely Tyson

Meta: Cicely Tyson
Source: Elle Magazine

Renown actress Tyson passed away at the age of 96. Throughout her impressive career, she was nominated for 52 awards and won 49 of them.

2: Henrietta Turnquest

Meta: Henrietta Turnquest
Source: Twitter

Turnquest was an attorney and trailblazer for black women in politics. She passed away this year at the age of 73 from complications of Alzheimers Disease.

3: Leonard Nelson Hubbard

Meta: Leonard Nelson Hubbard
Source: Black Enterprise

Hubbard, known affectionately by fans and friends as “Hub,” was a bassist for The Roots. After battling cancer for over a decade, the 62-year-old passed away in December.

4: DMX

Meta: DMX
Source: People Magazine

Legendary rapper and actor, DMX struggled with drugs and alcohol for most of his life. He passed away in April, the result of a cocaine-induced heart attack. He was 50 years old. 

5: Antwain Fowler

Meta: Antwain Fowler
Source: Antwain’s World

Fowler rose to internet fame after a video of him asking, “where we ’bout to eat at?” went viral. After bringing smiles to millions around the world, this sweet baby succumbed to a rare autoimmune disorder at only 6 years old.

6: Dr. Shirley McBay

Meta: Dr. Shirley McBay
Source: The Boston Globe

Highly respected mathematician, McBay spent her career pioneering for minority inclusion in STEM, paving the way for thousands of black men and women. She passed away at 86 years old. 

7: Paul Mooney

Meta: Paul Mooney
Source: The Fader

Mooney was a comedian and brilliant comedy writer who not only wrote for icons like Richard Pryor, but was a legend in his own right. He died at home at age 79 after suffering a heart attack.

8: Melvin van Peebles

Meta: Melvin van Peebles
Source: The New York Times

Van Peebles was an actor, filmmaker, playwright, novelist, and composer. One of his most popular works, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, is considered one of the first and best-regarded blaxploitation films. He passed away at 89 years old after a career that spanned over six decades.

9: Michael K. Williams

Meta: Michael K. Williams Source: NPR

Well known for his role as Omar Little on The Wire, Williams passed away at age 54 from an apparent drug overdose.

10: Demaryius Thomas

Meta: Demariyus Thomas
Source: Mile High Sports

Thomas, 33, was a wide receiver in the NFL, primarily with the Denver Broncos. He announced his retirement in June, and was found dead at home in December. Official autopsy results are still pending, but it is speculated that his passing was a result of seizures that he had been suffering since his car accident in 2019.

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