The late, famous poet and author Maya Angelou touched the lives of many especially Black women with over a dozen autobiographies, books of poetry and books of essays combined over her fifty year career span. Her most praised work was her first autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings telling the resilient story of her childhood in the South.
The late actress and activist would have been 95 this year.
Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was known as a “Mayor of the people” during his two terms in office. Barry died November 23. He was 78 years old.
Geoffrey Holder was an actor and dancer best known for his roles in Annie and Boomerang, and for directing the stage adaptation of The Wiz. He passed away on October 5. He was 84 years old.
Joe Sample, a legendary jazz pianist and composer, passed away from lung cancer on September 12. He was 75.
Former Wilhelmina model Joanne Borgella rose to fame after winning Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance pageant in 2005 and appearing on American Idol’s seventh season in 2008. In 2014, Borgella died from endometrial cancer at 32.
Titi Branch, half of the sister duo founders of Miss Jessie’s hair care products, passed away on December 4, 2014. She was 45.
Emmy-nominated actor Meshach Taylor was best known for his role on the hit show Designing Women. He passed away on June 28 at age 67.
Former Minnesota Vikings safety Orlando Taylor passed away on November 9 of complications from ALS. He was 42 years old.
Big Bank Hank, one-third of the 70s rap group Sugarhill Gang, passed away on November 11 at the age of 57.
Actress, dancer and former star of VH1’s Hit the Floor, Stephanie Moseley tragically lost her life at age 30. Her husband and rapper Earl Hayes allegedly killed her in a murder-suicide.
Singer Simone Battle of G.R.L. died of an apparent suicide on September 5, 2014. She was 25 years old.
Darryl Robinson was a famed celebrity mixologist and host of Drink Up on the Cooking Channel when he was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on February 5. He was 50 years old.