December 28, 2017


LAFD Chief Jerome Boyd


Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Battalion Chief Jerome Boyd passed away on April 28, at the age of 55 from heart related issues while driving on duty. He was an avid fitness person, devoted father and husband leaving behind a legacy of mentorship and hard work.




Dick Gregory


Iconic comedian and activist, Dick Gregory was best known for shedding light on racism and social injustices during his on stage performances. His style of comedy was often referred to during the 1950’s and 1960’s as “Black Mort Sahl”. Gregory steered away from the traditional minstrels that portrayed stereotypical Black characters. Instead, he touched on current events and racial issues like segregation and sit-ins. After his passing on August 19, 2017 at the age of 84, he left a legacy of Black America’s civil rights pioneer!






JoiSj Harris (stuntwoman)


Stuntwoman Joi “SJ” Harris, 40, passed away on August 14, while filming a motorcycle scene for Fox’s film “Deadpool 2”, starring Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin in Vancouver. It is believed that Harris was a stunt double for actress ZazieBeetz’s character, Domino. She will be remembered as the first African American female road racer who loved taking on a challenge.




Dave Cunningham


Community giant David S. Cunningham Jr. passed away on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at the age of 82. Cunningham will be remembered for his active role in the community, Civil Rights activities with local NAACP, and his work as the councilman of the 10th district. He went on to transform the landscape of the district by mentoring young politicans and consulting with states across the nation and authored several pieces of legislation.




Robert Guillaume


Television and stage icon Robert Guillaume, born “Robert Peter Williams”, passed away at age 89. Guillaume began his acting career in the early 1970’s making guest appearances on “Good Time”, “Sanford & Son”, and “The Jeffersons”.  However, he is most recognized for his role as Nathan Detroit in the first all-Black version of “Guys and Dolls”, which earned him a Tony Award nomination. Additionally, he went on to become the first African American to sing the title role of “Phantom of the Opera.” However, it was his role as Benson DuBois in the soap opera satire “Soap”, that made Guillaume a legend.




Fats Domino


Rock pioneer, Fats Domino, born “Antoine Domino”, who was known to have inspired Elvis Presley, the Beatles and many more, died at the age of 89 of natural causes. As the “Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” he enjoyed a five decade career that included more than 25 gold singles and 65 million records sold. Some of his top hits include, “Blueberry Hill”, “I’m Walking”, “Ain’t That a Shame”, and “I’m Walking into New Orleans”.




Bernal Smith II


President and publisher of the Tri-State Defender and well-known civic leader in Memphis, Tenn. Bernal E. Smith II, died in late October at the age of 45. As a member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Smith carried out the legacy of one of the longest running African-American newspapers in the country. He is remembered as a “bright light” to the members of NNPA, friends, and family.




Raymond Leo Johnson


(retired chief of police)


Former Inglewood Chief of Police Ray Leo Johnson died on August 1, 2017 from complications from Leuk­emia. Johnson had a history of helping his country and his city. He served as a unit leader in the U.S Marine Crops from 1953 to 1957. Prior to serving the City of Champions, Johnson served as a police officer for Bakersfield and worked as with California Highway Patrol where he worked for 21 years. Johnson was also involved in other community and law enforcement organizations. 




Martha Rivera Chavis


Devoted wife of civil rights leader, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. died on July 7. Chavis was the First Lady of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the former First Lady of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and an advocate for freedom as well as a loving mother. She is known for serving and being the backbone of her family and community.




Sheila Raye Charles


(Ray Charles daughter)


Vocalist, songwriter, and National Recording Academy Member, Shelia Raye Charles; the daughter of music icon Ray Charles and Sandra Jean Betts, passed away after battling cancer. She was 53. In honor of her father and keeping his legacy alive, Charles traveled around the world spreading a message of love and redemption by way of song, worship, and praise.






Rapper Prodigy, a member of the hardcore New York hip-hop duo Mobb Deep passed away at 42. Prior to his death, the rapper was hospitalized “for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis.” The group Mobb Deep earned a platinum plaque in 1999 for their album “MurdaMuzik”. The group also reached gold status with the albums, “Infamy,” “Hell on Earth,” and “The Infamous.”




Judy Ivie Burton


Education giant, Judie Ivie Burton passed away on May 19, 2017. Burton had a long history of dedicating her life to ensuring that all students, but in particular students of color from the most economically disadvantaged communities, had access to a high quality education. She worked as a principal and later, a central office executive within the Los Angeles Unified School District, where she was at the center of new initiatives to make schools better for students.




“The Gate Keeper”


Homer Leon Bradford


Homer Leon Bradford was known for leaving a lasting impression on the students and staff members of Crenshaw High School.  Bradford had a 36-year career with LAUSD and spent majority of his time working as a security officer for the high school. Bradford, known as “The Gate Keeper”, passed away on April 28, 2017. He will be remembered for touching the lives of many Crenshaw students and workers, their children and grandchildren.




Adolf Dulan


Adolf Dulan, dubbed “the King of Soul Food” and the patriarch of the “First Family of Los Angeles Soul Food”, died in early May passing on the baton to the next generation of Dulan businessmen. Dulan reigned over Los Angeles’ for nearly 40 years. He was recognized by many organizations and received awards including a Top Small Business Award from Assembly member Sebastian Ridley-Thomas in 2014, Community Based Business of the Year Award by Black Business News, The Patsy Brown Award and most recently, Small Businessman of the Year from the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Adolf has been lauded by the California State Assembly, former US Representative Diane Watson and former Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke.




Linda Hopkins


(jazz and blues legend)


Jazz and blues singer Melinda Helen Matthews “Linda Hopkins” passed away on April 10, at the age of 92. Her musical career began in 1935 at age 11, when Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson came to sing at Hopkins’ church. Hopkins opened the fundraiser with Jackson’s “God Shall Wipe Your Tears Away”, impressing the singer so much, she arranged for her to join the Southern Harp Spiritual Singers in 1936. Hopkins remained with the group until 1946. From there, she went on to receive numerous awards, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the Pantages Theatre.




Sylvia Moy (motown’s first female record producer)


Motown’s first female record producer and songwriter, Sylvia Moy passed away on April 15, 2017 at the age of 78. Moy sang Opera and was a soloist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She also studied a lot of French which influenced one of Wonder’s signature songs “My Cherie Amour”. In 2006 she was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.




Charlie Murphy


Charlie Murphy, a comedy stand-up performer and older brother of Eddie Murphy. He passed away at the age of 57 in New York from leukemia. He was perhaps best-known for his appearances on “Chappelle’s Show” on Comedy Central. He collaborated with writing his brother’s starring films “Norbert” and “Vampire in Brooklyn”. He voiced a role in the animated TV series that include “The Boondocks” and also appeared in the comedy series “Black Jesus”.


Auntie Fee Odell


Felicia “Auntie Fee” Odell was known as the internet’s most popular icon! In 2014, she went viral after her posting of “good ass chicken” and “sweet treats for the kids” on YouTube.  One of her most viewed videos, which has more than 2 million views, is about feeding a family of seven for just $3.35. Odell was known as an auntie to all and “comedy gold” to Hollywood.




William T. Coleman Jr.


Civil rights lawyer William T. Coleman Jr. who handled several landmark Supreme Court cases, passed away at the age of 96 from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. He was known for breaking a number of racial barriers and was the second African-Americans to lead a cabinet-level department. Coleman’s best-known civil rights work was on a series of cases that were combined into Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court unanimously declared in 1954 that school segregation is unconstitutional.




Ronald Hayes


Roland Hayes Betts, founder of “Jazz At Drew” and resident of Carson, California passed away on March 19. Betts served in the United States Marine Corp, making history by integrating the Quantico Marine Base Basketball team as the first African American and non-commissioned officer to join the squad. He was known as a mentor, leader, and loving husband, father, athlete, activist, and friend.


Chuck Berry


On March 18, 2017, police in St. Charles County, Missouri, were called to legendary musician Chuck  Berry’s house, where he was found unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene, aged 90. Berry was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included guitar solos and showmanship, Berry was a major influence on subsequent rock music.




Leon Ware


Leon Ware was an American music artist, songwriter and composer. Besides a solo career as a performer, Ware was best known for producing hits for other artists including Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Maxwell, Minnie Riperton and Marvin Gaye, co-producing the latter's album, “I Want You”. Ware died on February 23, 2017 due to complications of prostate cancer




Lionel J. Ball Jr.


In the past ten years, under the umbrella of his South of the 10 Production Company, Lionel  J. Ball Jr. created and produced dozens of television pilots, feature films, live stage events, documentaries and industrial projects. He has amassed over 100 commercial and theatrical credits for his work. The USC alumnus, suffered a major health crisis February 20, making his final transition early Tuesday morning February 21, 2017


Al Jarreau


Alwin Lopez “Al” Jarreau was an American singer and musician. He received a total of seven Grammy Awards and was nominated for over a dozen more. Jarreau is perhaps best known for his 1981 album Breakin’ Away. He also sang the theme song of the late-1980s television series Moonlighting, and was among the performers on the 1985 charity song “We Are the World”. He died February 12, 2017




DJ Crazy Toones


Lamar Dupré Calhoun better known as DJ Crazy Toones, was an American hip hop producer and deejay. He was a member of the rap group WC and the Maad Circle and was latterly signed to Ice Cube’s Lench Mob Records. Calhoun was born in Houston, Texas and was the brother of WC. Calhoun died from a heart attack on January 9, 2017, at the age of 45.




Roger Wilkins


(civil rights champion)


Roger Wilkins was an African-American civil rights leader, professor of history, and journalist. He worked as a welfare lawyer in Ohio before becoming an Assistant Attorney General in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration at age 33, one of the highest-ranking blacks ever to serve in the executive branch up to that time. Wilkins was sworn in as Director of Community Relations Service on Friday 4 February 1966 in a ceremony at The White House as per page 2 of President Johnson’s Diary for that day. Leaving government in 1969 at the end of the Johnson administration, he worked briefly for the Ford Foundation before joining the editorial staff of The Washington Post.  Along with Carl Bernstein, Herbert Block (“Herblock”), and Bob Woodward, Wilkins earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for exposing the Watergate scandal that eventually forced President Richard Nixon's resignation from office. He died March 26, 2017




Blanche A. Laws-McConnell


VP of Angelus funeral home


Blanche Laws-McCon­nell of Los Angeles, CA died July 21, 2017 at the age of 67. She was a licensed funeral director and manager of Angelus Funeral Home for 43 years. She graduated from the Texas Southern University with a degree in mortuary science. She was a member of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association Inc, California Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association, a Living Legend and was a life member of the 100 Black Women of Funeral Service.




Della Reese


Delloreese Patricia Early known professionally as Della Reese, was an American jazz and gospel singer, actress, and ordained minister whose career spanned seven decades. Reese’s long career began as a singer, scoring a hit with her 1959 single "Don't You Know?". In the late–1960s, Reese hosted her own talk show, Della, which ran for 197 episodes. She also starred in films beginning in 1975, including playing opposite Redd Foxx in Harlem Nights (1989), Martin Lawrence in A Thin Line Between Love and Hate (1996) and Elliott Gould in Expecting Mary (2010). She achieved continuing success in the television religious supernatural drama Touched by an Angel (1994–2003), in which Reese played the leading role of Tess. She died November 19, 2017.






Earle Hyman


Earle was an American stage, television, and film actor. Hyman is known for his role on ThunderCats as the voice of Panthro and various other characters. He also appeared on The Cosby Show as Cliff's father, Russell Huxtable. Hyman, who never married or had any children, died at age 91 on November 17, 2017, at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey.




Robert Yancy


Robert Yancy was found dead inside his San Fernando Valley apartment on Monday August 14, 2017 by a friend who was concerned about the fact that he had not heard from the young man for a few days. He was just 39, and his death came 20 months after the loss of his mother in December of 2015.






The (MMPA) Multicultural Motion Picture Association’s President & Executive Director, JarveeHutcherson died after hard fought battle with pancreatic/liver cancer on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at the home of his sister, Janet Hutcherson. Hutcherson was a Producer/Director and iconic pioneer in diversity, known for his Annual Diversity Awards where he recognized and honored celebrities such as Actress, Diahann Carroll, Grammy Award Winning Recording Artist, Dionne Warwick and Actor/Activist, Louis Gossett, Jr., Hutcherson began his career in beauty and scholarship pageants, where he  was touted for encouraging and inspiring many young women from all over the state of California throughout the years. He helped to launch careers in modeling, acting and other areas in the entertainment arena with the scholarship pageants, which later provided him entrée into the Miss California USA pageant system.




Dr. Joseph L. White


Psychologist and activist Joseph L. White – whose trailblazing work revolutionized the way African-Americans are understood in psychology and was affectionately referred to as the “godfather” of his field by students, mentees and colleagues died Nov. 21, 2017 at the age of 84. At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, White emerged as a powerful voice of change: challenging psychologists to understand better the unique experiences of ethnic minorities. He is widely considered a pioneer in the contemporary field of Black Psychology and, in 1968, he helped found the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi).




Leon T. Garr


The prolific career of businessman Leon “Ted” Garr was permanently noted in South L.A., thanks to the efforts of the city’s three black council representatives. Council President Herb Wesson, Councilmember Curren Price and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawkins united to designate the intersection of Vermont and Gage Avenues as Leon Garr Square. During his 80+ years in Los Angeles, Garr applied his incredible entrepreneurial skills to amass a wide range of businesses that employed hundreds of people.  His portfolio included a construction company, shopping centers, motels, apartment buildings, commercial buildings, senior citizen housing, childcare centers, and real estate holdings in Orange County and L.A.’s View Park district. He died December 5, 2017.    




Dr. Anyim Palmer


Dr. Anyim Palmer,  founder of Marcus Garvey School  in Los Angeles, made his transition on Friday, Decem­ber 15, 2017 while under the care of physicians at the Long Beach College Medical Center, he was 95 years of age. Dr. Anyim Palmer was one of the most innovative, resourceful educators of his time, said his loved ones. Dr. Palmer took an early adolescent vision and created a model for educating children that could be used to address the current American Educational crisis.




Simeon Booker


Simeon Booker, the Washington bureau chief of Jet and Ebony magazines for five decades, died Dec. 10, 2017 at an assisted-living community in Solo­mons, Md., according to The Washington Post. He was 99 and had recently been hospitalized for pneumonia, his wife, Carol Booker, told the paper. Booker was the first full-time Black reporter for The Post. The paper says “few reporters risked more to chronicle the civil rights movement than Mr. Booker.” Booker is credited with helping to deliver the story of Emmitt Till’s murder to a national audience.




Lowell Hawthorne


mainstream Jamaican cuisine


At 57, Lowell Haw­thorne was living the American Dream. Originally from rural Jamaica, he migrated to the United States in the 1980s, served on the police force and attended college, before launching the ultra-successful Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill restaurant franchise with relatives. But 120 outlets in nine states and respect among his peers were not enough to prevent Haw­thorne from taking his life on December 2, 2017 at the Golden Krust factory in the Bronx, New York; that’s the borough where the first Golden Krust opened in 1989.

Category: Community