Gone, But Not Forgotten

From pop icon Michael Jackson to political leader El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, 2009 was another year filled with the loss of important figures who have left big footprints to fill.

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  • Michael Jackson

    Michael Jackson

    Aug. 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

    Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, died at 50. He was a musician, dancer, entertainer and arguably one of the most popular and influential entertainers of all time.


    CAPTIONS BY FRANK MCCOY

  • Steve McNair

    Steve McNair

    Feb. 14, 1973 – July 4, 2009

    Steve McNair, 36, was a first-round National Football League draft pick, from historically black Alcorn State University and earned four Pro Bowl berths. He played 11 years for the Tennessee Titans and two for the Baltimore Ravens. In 2003, he was selected as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

  • Naomi Ruth Sims

    Naomi Ruth Sims

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    March 30, 1948 – August 1, 2009

    Widely described as the first black superstar model, Naomi Ruth Sims died at 61. She was also an entrepreneur and author.

  • David "Fathead" Newman

    David "Fathead" Newman

    On Jan. 20, 2009, David “Fathead” Newman, 75, jazz tenor saxophonist extraordinaire and flutist, who played with the Ray Charles Band and had a long solo career, died of pancreatic cancer.

  • Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye

    Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye

    Oct. 15, 1922 –  Feb. 6, 2009

    Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye, 86, was a curator of the House of Slaves Memorial on Goree Island, Senegal. He led many African Americans on tours of the famed site where many Africans were shipped into servitude.

  • Max Bond

    Max Bond

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    Max Bond, 73, a nationally prominent architect, died of cancer on February 19, 2009. Bond earned a B.A. in 1954 and master’s degree in 1957 from Harvard University. He broke ground in a profession that was fiercely exclusionary and became a partner in the New York firm of David Brody Bond Aedas. He led his firm to victory in the competition to build the National Museum of African-American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington. Sadly, the award was made after he died.

  • Altovise Davis

    Altovise Davis

    Aug. 30, 1943 – March 14, 2009

    Altovise Davis, 65, an entertainer and third wife of singer, dancer, comic Sammy Davis Jr., died of a stroke.

  • Susan Nyaradzo Tsvangirai

    Susan Nyaradzo Tsvangirai

    April 24, 1958 –  March 6, 2009

    Susan Nyaradzo Tsvangirai, 50, a leader of the Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and spouse of current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangira,i died in a car crash.

  • John Hope Franklin

    John Hope Franklin

    Jan. 2, 1915 – March 25, 2009

    John Hope Franklin, 94, the brilliant recorder of African-American history, best known for From Slavery to Freedom, published in 1947. He was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1995. He was also past president of the organization of American Historians and the Southern Historical Association. Franklin died of heart failure.

  • Marvin Nathaniel Webster

    Marvin Nathaniel Webster

    April 13, 1952 – April 4, 2009

    Marvin Nathaniel Webster, who was nicknamed the “Human Eraser” for his shot blocking ability and spent 10 years as an NBA player, died at 56 of natural causes.

  • Ernest Eugene "Ernie" Barnes Jr.

    Ernest Eugene "Ernie" Barnes Jr.

    July 15, 1938 – April 27, 2009

    Ernest Eugene “Ernie” Barnes Jr., 70, was a former American Football League player and official artist of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. His most famous painting was “Sugar Shack.”

  • Elsie B. Washington

    Elsie B. Washington

    Dec. 28, 1942 – May 5, 2009

    ElsieB. Washington, 66, author of Entwined Destinies, died of multiple sclerosis and cancer. Some critics contend that the 1980 book was the first romance novel by a black author that featured black characters.

  • Koko Taylor

    Koko Taylor

    Sept. 28, 1928 – June 3, 2009

    Hailed as “the Queen of the Blues,” Koko Taylor, 80.,was a singer with a powerful voice. Her hits included “Wang Dang Doodle,” “I’m a Woman” and “Hey Bartender.” She died of complications from surgery.

    September 28, 1928 – June 3, 2009

    Hailed as “the Queen of the Blues,Koko Taylor, 80. was a singer with a powerful voice. Her hits included “Wang Dang Doodle” , “I’m a Woman and “Hey Bartender”. She died of complications from surgery on June 3,2009.

  • Ivan van Gladstone Van Sertima

    Ivan van Gladstone Van Sertima

    January 26, 1935 –  May 25, 2009

    Ivan van Gladstone Van Sertima, 74, was a controversial Rutgers University historian and anthropologist who championed the belief that Africans should receive greater respect for their contributions to mankind. His most popular book was They Came Before Columbus, which posited that Africans visited the New World prior to Christopher Columbus.

  • Fr. Gérard Jean-Juste

    Fr. Gérard Jean-Juste

    Feb. 7, 1946 – May 27, 2009

    When Fr. Gérard Jean-Juste, 62, a political activist and champion of Haiti’s refugees, was accused of violent anti-government actions, he said his rosary was his only weapon.

  • Luís Severino de Almeida Cabral

    Luís Severino de Almeida Cabral

    April 11, 1931 – May 30, 2009

    Luis Severino de Almeida Cabral, 78, was the first president of Guinea-Bissau and led the West African country from 1974 until 1980.

  • El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba

    El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba

    Dec. 30, 1935 – June 8, 2009

    El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, who was born as Albert-Bernard Bongo, 73, was president of an oil-rich, yet poverty-stricken Gabon for 42 years from 1967 until his death. His son, Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba, succeeded him as president.

  • Zakes Mokae

    Zakes Mokae

    Aug. 5, 1934 – Sept. 11, 2009

    South African actor Zakes Mokae, 75, who often appeared in the plays of his countryman, Athol Fugard, died from complications of a stroke on Sept. 11, 2009. In 1982, Mokae won a Tony Award for his role in Fugard’s play, “Master Harold.”

  • Roy Rudolph DeCarava

    Roy Rudolph DeCarava

    Dec. 9, 1919 – Oct. 27, 2009

    Roy DeCarava, 89, was aNational Medal of Arts awardee and the first African American to earn a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1955, DeCarava collaborated with Langston Hughes on the book about Harlem, The Sweet Flypaper of Life.

  • Everette "E." Lynn Harris

    Everette "E." Lynn Harris

    June 20, 1955 – July 23, 2009

    Everette “E.” Lynn Harris, 54, died on July 23,2009. The openly gay author wrote 10 books that made the New York Times best-seller list; most were about the often closeted, or “down low” lives and loves of bisexual and gay black men. He wrote his first novel, Invisible Life, after working for 10 years as an IBM executive.

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