Celebrity Death

Ernest J. Gaines and Ralph Ellison. Two Black men wearing dark suits in conversation surrounded by White men.

Author Ernest J. Gaines Dead at Age 86

A dedicated storyteller who centered Black lives in the deep South, the award-winning author of “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” gave voice to the frequently silenced.

John Witherspoon. Older Black man sitting in peacock chair wearing dark sweater, white shirt, dark bow tie.

The World Remembers John Witherspoon, Dead at 77

Honor the comedy icon’s legacy with a laugh today via these clips of him at work.

Jessey Norman. Black woman wearing gold headband and gold jacket.

Jessye Norman Dies at Age 74

The renowned soprano’s career ran across five decades.

I.M Pei. Elder Asian man in black suit, red tie, black glasses, seated in wheelchair  in front of step and repeat.

The World Mourns Renowned Architect I.M. Pei

Pei designed iconic works—including the Louvre and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—that are nothing short of amazing.

Cyril Pahinui. Brown man in black hat and light green shirt and black pants plays brown guitar in front of blue screen and plant in black shadow

Celebrate the Life of Hawaiian Guitar Virtuoso Cyril Pahinui Via His Music

The slack key guitar star died at the age of 68.

Ntozake Shange. Black woman with short, curly brown hair smiles in gold dress and blue wheelchair in front of white screen with brown and yellow logos and text

Black Women Honor Ntozake Shange's Feminist Legacy

The author of the genre-smashing “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf” died at age 70.

Black-and-white portrait of Aretha Franklin inside a white frame and surrounded by white notes with black text and green and white flowers on grey sidewalk in front of people in white shoes and brown pants

Aretha Franklin's Family Denounces Reverend's 'Distasteful' Eulogy

Vaughn Franklin says Reverend Jasper Williams Jr.’s remarks at his aunt’s funeral ignored the late singer’s life and condemned activists and single Black mothers.

Aretha Franklin in brown dress holds hand out while seated at black piano in front of blue and green background

LIVESTREAM: Aretha Franklin's Funeral in Detroit

Join the world in mourning and celebrating the Queen of Soul as famous fans like Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson arrive in the Motor City for her funeral. 

Aretha Franklin in green dress with silver embroidery holding black microphone in front of black screen

How Aretha Franklin Lent Her Voice to the Civil Rights Movement

The Queen of Soul, who just passed away at age 76, captivated the world with her vocals and turned a plea for “Respect” into a rallying cry for justice. Revisit her legacy.

Janet Jackson. Black woman wearing shimmery gold sweater, rainbow-colored beaded necklace and bracelets stands on a stage

Janet Jackson Pays Tribute to Late Father at Essence Festival

Joe Jackson died just two weeks before the performance.

A White man with white hair standing on a stage lit up by a black and white background behind him.

Reflections on Anthony Bourdain, Celebrated Chef and TV Host Who Opposed Racism and Xenophobia

People of color remember the award-winning chef, tv host and author who advocated for immigrants, supported the #MeToo movement, and fiercely opposed racism and colonialism.

Anti-Apartheid Activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Dies at Age 81

A leader in the fight against South African apartheid, she died surrounded by family members in Johannesburg.

Black man in red jacket with white lettering and black embroidery in front of brown wood wall and black background

Hip Hop Salutes Craig Mack

The “Flava In Ya Ear” rapper is dead from heart failure at age 47.

Black-and-white image of Black man in grey suit and pastor robes next to Black man in black pastor robes in front of grey wall

Civil Rights Strategist and Activist Wyatt Tee Walker Dies

Walker worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the 1960s.

Black woman in red t-shirt and brown striped hat and black scarf speaks into black receiver attached to brown megaphone in front of black sky

The Words and Wisdom of Trailblazers Who Passed Away In 2017

We’re  honoring some of the activists, performers and pioneers of color who died in 2017 in their own words.

Brown man with black leather jacket and headband and blue shirt in front of green trees

Native Activist and AIM Leader Dennis Banks Dies at Age 80

The American Indian Movement co-founder resisted the U.S. government’s oppression of Native people for decades.

Black-and-white image of Black man in dark suit with patterned tie on piano in front of grey background

Rock and Roll Pioneer Fats Domino Dies at Age 89

The New Orleans singer-songwriter and pianist paved the way for rock music with songs like “The Fat Man” and “Ain’t That a Shame.” 

Black man in glasses and grey suit with white shirt in front of dark background

Black Hollywood Honors Actor Robert Guillaume

Guillaume, whose work on “Benson” made him the first Black man to earn a lead comedy actor Emmy, died at age 89 after battling prostate cancer.

Black woman in black hat and top and pants holding black microphone in front of Black women in black outfits and purple background

MAC Honors Aaliyah With Fan-Driven Cosmetics Collection

The R&B singer died in a plane crash 16 years ago.

Black woman in White dress stands behind black microphone in front of white light on black background

'Whitney. Can I Be Me' Explores the Artist's Struggles With White Entertainment Industry Standards

The new feature documentary, which chronicles Houston’s life from pre-superstardom to her sudden 2012 death, airs exclusively on Showtime.