RIP: Black celebrities who passed away in 2022

We lost many high-profile Black figures this year, from esteemed elders who blazed paths to young stars who met tragic ends at the hands of others or by suicide. Here we’ve highlighted just a few of the celebrities who died this year but left legacies that will be felt well beyond 2022.

(first row, l-r): Legendary actor Sidney Poitier, 94, died on Jan. 6; James Mtume, 76, musician, songwriter, and producer of the R&B/funk group Mtume died of cancer on Jan. 9; ‘60s icon and leader of the Ronettes, Ronnie Spector, 78, died of cancer on Jan. 12; André Leon Talley, 73, a trailblazing editor for Vogue, died on Jan. 18; actor Johnny Brown, 84, of “Good Times” fame, died of cardiac arrest on March 2; singer and reality star Traci Braxton died of cancer on March 12; social media personality Kevin Samuels, 57, died of hypertension on May 5.

(second row, l-r) R&B singer and musician Bernard Wright, 58, best known for his song, “Who Do You Love?” died in a traffic accident on May 19; former Dallas Cowboys running back and Gopher great Marion Barber III, 38, died of heatstroke on June 1; comedian Jak Knight, 28, died by suicide on July 14; R&B singer and bassist Michael Henderson, 71, best known for his vocals on “You Are My Starship” died on July 19; TV, screen and stage actress Mary Alice, 85, died of natural causes on July 27; pioneering “Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols, 89, died of heart failure on July 30; basketball legend and civil rights activist Bill Russell, 88, died on July 31.

(third row, l-r) Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier, 81, died on Aug. 8; comedian David A. Arnold, 54, died of natural causes on Sept. 7; journalist and longtime CNN anchor Bernard Shaw, 82, died of pneumonia on Sept. 7; legendary jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, 87, died on Sept. 12; rapper PnB Rock, 30, died on Sept. 12 after being fatally shot; R&B singer Jesse Powell, 51, best known for the hit song “You” died of a heart attack on Sept. 13; rapper Coolio, 59, of “Gangsta’s Paradise and “Fantastic Voyage” fame died of cardiac arrest on Sept 28.

(fourth row, l-r) Gospel great Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson, 50, died on Sept. 30; R&B singer Joyce Sims, 63, best known for hits “Come into My Life” and “Lifetime Love” died on Oct. 15; rapper Takeoff of the group Migos, was fatally shot on Nov. 1; singer and actress Irene Cara, 63, known for pop hits “Fame” and “Flashdance…What A Feeling,” and the movie “Sparkle,” died on Nov. 25; “Walker, Texas Ranger” actor and teacher Clarence Gilyard, 66, died on Nov. 28; dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss, 40, died by suicide on Dec. 13; soccer’s first global superstar Pelé, 82, died on Dec. 29.


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