She was the pinup girl for thousands of black GIs in World War II and a fixture on the 1940s cabaret scene, and she dazzled on the big screen in Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather and, years later, The Wiz. But the apartheid of her era kept her from becoming a major movie star. A much beloved civil rights activist, she won a Tony award for her one-woman Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, in 1981. A class act in her own league, Horne died in May at 92.
Captions by Frank McCoy and Deron Snyder
In 1961 Burroughs founded Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History, among the first of its kind. She started it in her home with her husband, using their personal collection. She told Black Enterprise in 1980, "A lot of black museums have opened up, but we're the only one that grew out of the indigenous black community. We weren't started by anybody downtown; we were started by ordinary folks." She died in November at 95.
Dailey starred at the University of San Francisco and was the Chicago Bulls' first-round pick in 1982, but his role in a sexual-assault case and acceptance of prohibited payments from a booster contributed to the termination of his school's storied basketball program for three years. Dailey, who later said he pleaded guilty to sexual assault only to avoid jail, faced protests from women's groups and anonymous death threats in Chicago. He died in November at age 49 of hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
Part of the second generation of black singers after trailblazer Marian Anderson's 1955 breakthrough at New York's Metropolitan Opera, Verrett made her professional debut in 1957. In 1968 she performed at the Met in the titular role in Carmen. She taught at the University of Michigan until retiring in May. She died in November at age 79.
Lucas led Marquette to the NCAA title game in 1974 and became a star in the ABA before it merged with the NBA. An intimidating power forward nicknamed "the Enforcer," he helped the Portland Trail Blazers win their only championship (1976-1977). The five-time All-Star played for five other NBA teams and spent six seasons as an assistant coach with Portland. He died in November at age 58 of bladder cancer.
Mentor to a teenage Negro Leagues teammate named Willie Mays, Wilson is the last top-level professional to bat higher than .400. He hit .402 for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948. A slick-fielding, slap-hitting shortstop, Wilson played 19 games with the New York Giants in 1951. He and a teammate integrated the Triple-A Seattle Rainiers in 1952. He died in November at age 90.
Payton, father of Grammy-winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton, was a versatile musician who accompanied symphony orchestras, Robert Parker, Nancy Wilson, Harry Connick Jr., Clark Terry, Doc Paulin, the king of Thailand and many more. He taught generations of public school students in New Orleans and anchored the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. A professional musician throughout, Payton retired from the school system in 1991 and played around the world. He died in October at the age of 68.
With a top 20 R&B hit in 1965 — "Love Is a Five Letter Word" — and a hit gospel recording around the same time — "Standing Where Jesus Stood" — Phelps wwas poised for stardom in both arenas. He didn't sustain the momentum, but he did sing with Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers and perform next to Lou Rawls with the Holy Wonders. He died in October at the age of 78.
Free jazz was a largely underground phenomenon in 1965 when Brown played alto sax on John Coltrane's watershed album Ascension, which challenged convention and brought the improvisational movement to the forefront. Brown was known for playing with the avant-garde even before then, working with musicians who pushed the boundaries of jazz. He taught African-American music at Bowdoin College in the 1970s and studied ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University. He died in October at the age of 79.
Along with 12 fellow Black Panthers, Tabor was acquitted in 1971 of conspiring to bomb buildings and murder cops in New York. He fled to Algeria during the trial, becoming a writer and radio host in Zambia. "The old guard of African liberation movements respected him as a freedom fighter," friend Melvin McCray told the New York Times. He died in October from complications following several strokes.
The first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, Jefferson became an outspoken opponent of abortion, testifying before Congress in 1981 that the Roe v. Wade decision "gave my profession an almost unlimited license to kill." She graduated from Harvard in 1951 and later became a professor and surgeon at Boston University Medical School and its hospital. Jefferson also held leadership positions in numerous anti-abortion organizations. She died in October at age 84.
Although Peoples was a standout at Grambling under legendary coach Eddie Robinson, he went undrafted after graduating in 1965. He played one season of semipro football and spent two years in the Army before signing as a free agent with the San Francisco 49ers and becoming a two-time Pro Bowler. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1978 and started at guard on their 1980 Super Bowl team. He died in October at age 67.
Legendary record producer Jerry Wexler once called Burke "the best soul singer of all time." Though Burke never eclipsed the popularity of James Brown and Marvin Gaye — two contemporaries he influenced — he did record a string of hits in the 1960s after signing with Atlantic Records. With a comeback album recorded in 2002, Don't Give Up on Me, Burke won his first and only Grammy. He died in October at the age of 70.
After founding SOLAR Records in 1977, Griffey became one of the most instrumental figures in black music, propelling the careers of Antonio "L.A." Reid, Babyface, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. SOLAR signed groups such as the Whispers, Shalamar, Lakeside, Midnight Star and Klymaxx. "When we look at Motown as an example, the nearest competitor was SOLAR," Reid told the Associated Press. "The talent under that roof was insane." He died in September at age 71.
The Grammy nominee performed with greats such as Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. A saxophonist, flautist, bandleader and educator, Collette broke a barrier in 1949 as the only black band member on the Groucho Marx show You Bet Your Life. He died in September at age 89.
A politically active Baptist minister who in the 1960s sought to link mainstream Protestant, Catholic and Jewish congregations to community organizers in troubled areas, Walker later advocated for reparations and became an international humanitarian. Pastors for Peace, an organization he founded in 1988 after being attacked on a fact-finding trip to Nicaragua, has sent hundreds of tons of aid to Latin American countries, especially Cuba. He died in September at age 80.
A member of the "Little Rock Nine," which led the nation's integration battle in 1957, Thomas served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and later earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Los Angeles State College. President Obama said in a statement, "Our nation owes Thomas a debt of gratitude for the stand he took half a century ago, and the leadership he showed in the decades since." He died in September at age 68.
The first African-American TV reporter in Omaha, Neb., Dow enjoyed an Emmy-winning career with CBS News and helped shape 48 Hours. He covered huge stories, landing an exclusive interview with Patricia Hearst in 1976 and the first network interview with O.J. Simpson after the 1994 murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, as well as covering the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and U.S. troops in Bosnia in 1996. He died in August at age 62 from asthma.
Lincoln was resolute in choosing her path, rejecting the safe route of sexy, apolitical star for the risky roles of advocate and experimental artist. The jazz singer and actress sang original songs instead of standards, and in 1960 she collaborated with her husband, jazz drummer Max Roach, on an early masterwork of the civil rights movement, We Insist! (Freedom Now Suite). Her career lagged in the 1970s, but she enjoyed a comeback in the 1990s. She died in August at the age of 80.
The lithe former dancer was director of the Ailey School of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 1984 until her death from cancer in July at age 65. She joined the school in 1974 and grew it to 3,500 students. Jefferson's mission was to train the best dancers and send them forth to companies, stages and schools worldwide. She succeeded.
In April 1945, Lt. Baker destroyed four German machine-gun nests, single-handedly ensuring that a strategic Italian hilltop was captured. Yet he was denied the Medal of Honor for valor. Fifty-two years later, President Bill Clinton awarded the medal to seven black World War II soldiers. Six were given posthumously. Baker, leader of a segregated unit, was there to receive his. He died on July 13 at age 90.
The singer was a bishop and a member of a family of gospel stars. He was also a Grammy Award winner and a multiple Grammy nominee, and crafted many hits on Billboard's gospel-music charts. The family's most famous song, a crossover hit, was "Oh Happy Day." Hawkins collaborated with Donnie McClurkin and many others. He died in July at the age of 61.
It was love at first bite when viewers saw McGee in Blacula. She disliked the exploitive nature of many 1970s "blaxploitation" films but needed a paycheck and appeared in Hammer and Shaft in Africa. Her other work included The Eiger Sanction and roles on L.A. Law. She met her husband, Carl Lumbly, on the set of Cagney & Lacey. McGee died in July at the age of 65.
The NBA player was known for his height — 7 feet 7 inches — and his shot blocking. But Bol's legacy is his commitment to his homeland. The humanitarian spent millions to assist refugees from his native southern Sudan. He died at age 47 on June 19 from kidney failure and Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
The man appointed prime minister in 1992 by Haiti's military, months after it overthrew elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was brilliant — and honest, a trait that decades earlier had caused ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier to dismiss Bazin as finance minister. In 1993 it was reported that Bazin had resigned because the military would not allow him to fire certain cabinet members. He died in June at age 78.
Acclaim came to Hank Jones late in life. For decades his smooth piano virtuosity meshed with artists who included Ella Fitzgerald, Artie Shaw and Charlie Parker, in addition tno studio orchestras and his own bands. He was the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts, Grammy and National Medal of Arts honors. Watch Jones, who died in May at age 91, explain bebop.
The leader of Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria, Yar'Adua was elected in 2007 and welcomed as an honest, if not well-known, reformer. But support waned as Nigeria's notorious corruption appeared to be unaffected. He had not completed half of his term when the unexplained illness that may have eventually killed him further weakened his ability to rule. He died in May at the age of 58.
Height was the only woman among the civil rights movement's top leaders standing on the platform with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his "I Have a Dream'' speech. President of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, she inspired generations of black women to rise to greatness. She died in April at the age of 98.
The rapper-composer Keith Elam/Guru is considered the innovator of the 1990s hip-hop-jazz movement with Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 and Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2. The Morehouse man from Boston's Roxbury hood joined with DJ Premier to form Gang Starr. Its six influential albums kicked off with the driving single "Words I Manifest." Guru died from cancer in April at age 48. Watch a Guru tribute.
The Memphis, Tenn., native worked tirelessly as executive director of the NAACP from 1977 to 1992. Previously, Hooks was the first black commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission and Tennessee's first criminal court judge. During his years at the NAACP, he focused on diversifying corporate America and its suppliers of goods and services, educating at-risk students and voter registration. He died in April at the age of 85.
What do you call a blues singer who wore rainbow clothing, mismatched shoes and socks, and dyed his hair royal purple? A publicity and stylistic genius. But only if he is Mississippi Slim and can sing as good as he looks. Watch Slim do the news and sing the blues. He died in April at the age of 66.
Muzorewa led a nonviolent movement in white-ruled Rhodesia and became prime minister in a provisional black-led government. It had no real power, and his rule was rejected by the United Nations and black guerrilla leaders. In 1980 one of those leaders, Robert Mugabe, won a national election, became president and declared the Republic of Zimbabwe. Muzorewa died in April at age 84.
Throughout a 50-year career as a businessman and serial entrepreneur, Llewellyn was always prepared for a deal. The son of Jamaican immigrants owned a $100 million supermarket business and a TV station. He was also owner, chairman and CEO of the $500 million Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. He died in April at the age of 82.
Allen was a Virginian who grew up under segregation and served eight presidents during 34 years as a White House butler. But his biggest thrill came years after his 1986 retirement: When Barack Obama was elected to the nation's highest office, Allen and his family were invited to the swearing-in and escorted to their seats by a U.S. Marine guard. He died in March at the age of 90.
The former school secretary who could sing gospel and bawdy secular songs equally well was as comfortable in a Bourbon Street club as in church. Her powerful voice and versatility endeared her to fans and fellow musicians across the Crescent City. She died in March at the age of 62 from complications after a series of strokes.
Many people attending Barack Obama's inauguration probably celebrated their birthday that day. Ella Mae Johnson was undoubtedly the only one celebrating her 105th birthday. The Fisk University graduate, who also earned a master's degree, was wrapped in a sleeping bag with only her eyes visible. But she saw the man she voted for take the oath. She died in March at the age of 106.
Davis played on two Los Angeles Dodgers World Series champion teams and in two All-Star games, and won three Gold Glove awards as a center fielder. He had a 31-game hitting streak in 1969, was a prolific base stealer and had a .279 batting average with 182 home runs and 1,053 RBI in 2,429 games played. He died in March at the age of 69.
The celebrated poet wrote about black life, women and social issues. The first collection by Maryland's poet laureate, Good Times, was hailed by the New York Times. An awards panel said, "One always feels the looming humaneness around Lucille Clifton's poems — it is a moral quality that some poets have and some don't." She died in February at age 73.
It took nerve to fly 169 combat missions as a fighter pilot, and later to thrive as the rare black corporate executive. Archer had the right stuff. He was a Tuskegee Airman during World War II and served for 17 years as an investment officer at General Mills before founding his own venture-capital firm. He died in January at age 90.
He was never a star, but Apache worked on Flavor Unit with Queen Latifah. He appeared on the first albums by hip-hop royalty, including Fat Joe and Tupac Shakur. The best-known rap by Apache, who was found dead in his home, was the controversial "Gangsta Bitch." In the 1990s he left rap and "found God." He died in January at age 45 of unknown causes.
Teddy's scintillating, raspy voice tells his story best, especially through songs such as "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "All By Myself," "Turn Off the Lights," "Close the Door," "Is It Still Good to You" and When Somebody Loves You Back." The Teddy Pendergrass Alliance assists spinal-cord-injury victims. Pendergrass died in January at the age of 59.
During Thigpen's six-decade career, he spent six years as a sideman for Oscar Peterson, toured with Ella Fitzgerald and played with jazz luminaries Billy Taylor and Eddie Vinson. Known as "Mr. Taste" for his timing, technical skill and melodic sense, died in his adopted homeland, Denmark, in January at the age of 79.
The doyenne of the Ebony Fashion Fair, Johnson and her husband, John H. Johnson, created the Negro Digest, Ebony and Jet, magazines that transformed the way black people were portrayed and saw themselves. She also started Fashion Fair Cosmetics for black women. She died in January at the age of 93.
Known for the jazz-and-pop standard "Moody's Mood for Love," which opens memorably with, "There I go, there I go, there I go, there I go," Moody was a bebop pioneer. He began a long association with trumpeter-bandleader Dizzy Gillespie and played until the end. Moody 4B, an album recorded in 2008 but released this year, has been nominated for a Grammy Award. He died in December at age 85.
The author of seminal works that helped shape the study of economics in the developing world, Farley founded SUNY-Brockport's Department of Economics. The premium he placed on education influenced his four sons (including journalist Christopher John Farley), all of whom graduated from Harvard College, Harvard Law School or both. The Guyana native held many academic and government posts throughout his career and won many tournaments across the U.S. as a highly ranked chess player. He died in November at age 88.
As head of the Violence Prevention Alliance and a member of the Peace Management Initiative, Chevannes was a leading activist in Jamaica. Rastafari: Roots and Ideology and Rastafari and Other African Worldviews are among his published works, which dispelled misconceptions about the religion and looked at it through an intellectual lens. He died in November at age 70.
Nicknamed "the Assassin" and counted among the NFL's hardest hitters, Tatum is inexorably linked to former New England receiver Darryl Stingley, who was paralyzed in 1978 after a ferocious hit from the defensive back. A star at Ohio State and Oakland's first-round pick in 1971, Tatum helped the Raiders win the 1976 Super Bowl. He died in July at age 61 of a heart attack.
One of jazz's true Renaissance men, the Grammy Award-winning Taylor, who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was an educator, radio host, composer and correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning. He was the house pianist at the famed Birdland, where he played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. His song "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" became a theme song of the civil rights movement. He died in December at age 89.
The bass guitarist and brother of Ernie Isley provided the percussive drive on Isley Brothers mega-hits. These included "Fight the Power" (Parts 1 & 2), "For the Love of You" (Parts 1 & 2) and "Between the Sheets." Later he was a member of Isley-Jasper-Isley. Watch the video for "Caravan of Love," the group's No. 1 R&B single. Isley died in June at age 56 of complications from diabetes.