Top from left to right: Rappers Coolio and Takeoff, actress and singer Irene Cara and basketball legend Bill Russell. Bottom from left to right: actor Sidney Poitier, actress Nichelle Nichols, soccer great Pelé, Cowboy’s running back Marion Barber III and DJ and dancer tWitch. Graphic courtesy of Caelestiss Art on Vecteezy.


The Dallas Examiner


The Dallas Examiner has a compiled a chronological list of notable and influential Black icons we lost in 2022. We thank them for all they have contributed to the world and for our culture. May they forever rest in power and their memories live on.


Pele – Photo by Joop van Bilsen

Edson Arantes do Nascimento AKA Pelé, 82

Born: Oct. 23, 1940 in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Brazilian professional soccer forward who regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Pelé died Thursday Dec. 29. Along with his many titles, awards and accolades, Pelé holds two Guinness World Records for Most Career Goals scoring 1,283 goals in 1,363 games and the most World Cup Winners’ Medals earning three for his country.


Franco Harris – Photo by Governor Tom Wolf

Franco Harris, 72

Born: March 7, 1950 in Fort Dix, New Jersey

Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Franco Harris known best for the iconic, game-winning play deemed “The Immaculate Reception” died Dec. 20 as confirmed by Harris’ son Dok to The Associated Press. Harris played football at the University of Penn State before being drafted in 1974 by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 13th overall pick. He won the NFL’s Rookie of the Year award after rushing for a record 1,055 yards and 10 touchdowns that same year.


Stephen “tWitch” Boss – Photo courtesy of Facebook

 Stephen “tWitch” Boss, 40

Born: Sept. 29, 1982 in Montgomery, Alabama

Hip and friendly DJ “tWitch” on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and dancer who rose to fame on So You Think You Can Dance died Dec. 13, his wife and fellow dancer Allison Holker Boss, confirmed in a statement to CNN. Boss furthered his career as a freestyle hip hop dancer, choreographer, actor, television producer and personality. Between 2018 and 2020, he and his wife hosted Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings on Freeform and Disney+.


Pail Silas – Photo by Seattle SuperSonics

Paul Theron Silas, 79

Born: July 12, 1943 in Denver, North Carolina

Legendary head coach in the NBA, Paul Silas was known as one of the most influential basketball players of his time. He died on Dec. 10. As a player, he was a two-time NBA All-Star and was picked five times to the NBA All-Defensive Team. He won three NBA championships: two with the Boston Celtics and one with the Seattle SuperSonics. Silas played 16 seasons in the NBA and then went on to coach for 32 years. He was known as a players’ coach and mentored many Hall Of Fame players, including Lebron James.


Dorothy Pitman Hughes – photo PRNewsfoto/ERA Coalition

Dorothy Pitman Hughes, 84

Born: Oct. 2, 1938 in Lumpkin, Georgia

Prominent feminist Dorothy Hughes co-founded the Women’s Action Alliance and was known for her activism and work in child welfare died Dec. 1. The Associated Press reported. Hughes made waves in the 1970s when she began touring nationally with feminist Gloria Steinem advocating for women’s rights and liberation. Hughes was also an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.


Clarence Gilyard – Photo by J. P. Aussenard

Clarence Gilyard, 66

Born: Dec. 24, 1955 in Moses Lake, Washington

Actor, professor, and author Clarence Gilyard was best known the sidekick private investigator Conrad McMasters on the series Matlock. He also appeared as James “Jimmy” Trivette in Walker, Texas Ranger and as Lieutenant Evan “Sundown” Gough in Top Gun. In 2006 Gilyard became an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas teaching acting until his death on Nov. 28.


Irene Cara – Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Irene Cara, 63

Born: March 18, 1959 in the Bronx, New York City

Actress, singer and songwriter Irene Cara gained notoriety for her portrayal of Coco Hernandez in the 1980 musical film Fame. She also sang the movie’s title hit song of the same name which reached No. 1 in several countries. Three years later she co-wrote and recorded Flashdance… What a Feeling for the movie Flashdance starring Jennifer Beals. Early in her career, Cara also made waves in Hollywood including starring as the title character Sparkle Williams in the original 1976 musical drama film Sparkle. She died Nov. 25.


Takeoff – Photo by IGN on Twitter

Kirshnik Khari Ball AKA Takeoff, 28

Born: June 18, 1994 in Lawrenceville, Georgia

Best known as the youngest member of the rap group Migos, Takeoff along with his uncle Quavo and first cousin once removed Offset made their mark on hip hop with trap beats and catchy adlibbing lyrical bars. Ball died Nov. 1 in Houston. The rapping family trio had several chart-topping hits on the Billboard Hot 100 including MotorSport featuring Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, Walk It Talk It featuring Drake, and Bad and Boujee featuring Lil Uzi Vert, and Stir Fry. They were also nominated for two Grammy Awards.


Dr. Rev. Calvin Butts – Photo courtesy of Abyssinian

Rev. Dr. Calvin Otis Butts III, 73

Born: July 19, 1949 in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York for over 30 years, Rev. Calvin O. Butts was also president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury for two decades. Along with acquiring accreditations and expanding educational services at his schools, Butts helped establish the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change – a public school system in Harlem before his death on Oct. 28.


Coolio – Public domain photo on wikimedia

Artis Leon Ivey Jr. AKA Coolio, 59

Born: Aug. 1, 1963 in Los Angeles, California

As a rapper, Coolio began his career as a member of the rap group WC and the Maad Circle. His success skyrocketed as solo artist in the ‘90s releasing three albums, It Takes a Thief (1994), Gangsta’s Paradise (1995), and My Soul (1997) and with the hit song Gangsta’s Paradise created for the movie Dangerous Minds. Later in his career Coolio provided the opening track “Aw, Here It Goes!” for the 1996 Nickelodeon television series Kenan & Kel. Before his death on Sept. 28, Coolio published a cookbook and created the web series Cookin’ with Coolio.


Bernard Shaw – Photo by Ann Thomas

Bernard Shaw, 82

Born: May 22, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois

Journalist and lead news anchor for CNN from 1980 to 2001, Bernard Shaw covered an array of events that shaped the political and societal landscape of the 20th century. He is best known for reporting on the Persian Gulf War, the student revolt in Tiananmen Square and the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Beginning in 1992, Shaw co-anchored CNN’s Inside Politics until he retired. He died Sept. 7


Earnie_Shavers – Photo by Gage Skidmore

Earnie Dee Shavers, 78

Born: Aug. 31, 1944 in Garland, Alabama

As a professional boxer, Earnie Shavers was a two-time world heavyweight championship challenger losing to Muhammad Ali in 1977 and to Larry Holmes in 1979. He is known for having one of the hardest punches in heavyweight boxing history. He scored 69 knockout wins, including 23 in the first round, for a 76.7% overall knockout rate. He competed between 1969 and 1995 and died on Sept. 1.


Denise Dowse – Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images

Denise Dowse, 64

Born: February 21, 1958 in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii

Actress and director Denise Dowse was best known for her roles as Mrs. Yvonne Teasley on the television series Beverly Hills, 90210, Judge Rebecca Damsen in The Guardian and Dr. Rhonda Pine on Insecure. She died on Aug. 13.




Lamont Dozier – Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images

Lamont Dozier, 82

Born: June 16, 1941 in Detroit, Michigan

Singer, songwriter and record producer Lamont Dozier co-wrote and produced 14 U.S. Billboard No. 1 hits and four No. 1 hits in the UK. He became a legend of Motown crafting hits other legendary musicians such as the Supremes and Marvin Gaye. He died on Aug. Read more about his story HERE.



Nichelle Nichols – Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Grace Dell Nichols AKA Nichelle Nichols, 89

Born: Dec. 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois

As an actress, singer and dancer best known for her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek and its film sequels, Nichelle Nichols broke barriers for African American actresses in the ‘60s. Nichols kissed White actor William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in the Nov. 22, 1968, Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren.” The episode is cited as the first example of an interracial kiss on U.S. television. For 38 years, from 1977 until 2015, Nichols volunteered her time to promote NASA’s programs and recruit diverse cadets, including some of the first female and minority astronauts. She died on July 30. Read more about her story HERE.


Bill Russell – Photo by norske leksikon via public domain

Bill Russell, 88

Born: Feb. 12, 1934 in Monroe, Louisiana

Professional basketball player, Bill Russell was the center for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969. He was not only the first Black player inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, he was also its first Black head coach. He was a NBA five-time Most Valuable Player and a 12-time NBA All-Star. Russell’s talent led the Celtics dynasty that won 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career. He is tied for the record of the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. Russell is considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time.


Mary Alice – Photo by Alan Light

Mary Alice Smith, 85

Born: Dec. 3, 1936 in Indianola, Mississippi

Television, film and stage actress Mary Alice was known for her roles as Leticia “Lettie” Bostic on the sitcom A Different World and Effie Williams in the 1976 musical drama Sparkle. She won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her recurring role on the series I’ll Fly Away and a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for the 1987 production of August Wilson’s Fences. Alice died on July 27.


William Hart – Photo by Julius Juice Freeman

William “Poogie” Hart, 77

Born: Jan. 17, 1945 in Washington, D.C

Soul singer, songwriter and producer William Poogie Hart was best known as a founding member of the musical group the Delfonics.





Marion Barber III – Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Marion Barber III, 38

Born: June 10, 1983 in Plymouth, Minnesota

Professional running back for seven seasons in the NFL, Marion Barber III made his mark in Dallas football. After playing college football for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the Cowboys drafted him in the fourth round of the 2005 Draft. Barber III was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007 during his six-year tenure with the Cowboy and then briefly played for the Chicago Bears in 2011. He died on June 1.


Jeff Gladney- Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty

Jeff Gladney, 25

Born: December 12, 1996 in New Boston, Texas

Professional cornerback Jeff Gladney played for two seasons in the NFL before his untimely death on May 30. He played college football at the Texas Christian University and was a twice all-conference selection in the Big 12. He was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and later signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2022 but died in Dallas before starting with the team.


Bernard Wright – Photo courtesy of Arista Records

Bernard Wright, 58

Born: Nov. 16, 1963 in Jamaica, Queens, New York

Funk and jazz keyboardist and singer Bernard Wright was an influential musician of the genre collaborating with famous artists such as Doug E. Fresh, Bobby Brown and Miles Davis. On his debut album ‘Nard, artists such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Skee-Lo, and LL Cool would later sample several of his tracks for their future hit songs. Wright released four solo albums and was best known for the song Who Do You Love on his album Mr. Wright. After he stopped recording, Wright continued playing keyboards in Dallas, where he mentored young artists.


Bob Lanier – Photo by Richard Bartlaga

Bob Lanier, 73

Born: Sept. 10, 1948 in Phoenix, Arizona

Professional basketball player Bob Lanier was a center for the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks. He had his No. 16 jersey retired by both teams and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. He went on to be the assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors and an NBA Cares Global Ambassador. Lanier died on May 10.



Andrew Wollfolk – Photo by Michael Putland/Getty

Andrew Woolfolk, 71

Born: Oct. 11, 1950 in San Antonio, Texas

Saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk was a longtime member of the band Earth, Wind & Fire from 1973 to 1985, and from 1987 to 1993. He died on April 24.




Jak Knight – Photo by FilmMagic/Getty

Jakim Maulana AKA Jak Knight, 28

Born: Nov. 6, 1993 in Seattle, Washington

The stand-up comic, writer and actor Jak Knight known for his work on hit Black-ish and Big Mouth was on his way to the Bust Down, his new show, when he died on July 14.




Cedric McMillian – Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty

Cedric McMillan, 44

Born: Aug. 17, 1977 in Maplewood, New Jersey

Professional bodybuilder and U.S. Army instructor Cedric McMillan was one of the leading bodybuilders of the 21st century. His last victory was the 2017 Arnold Classic. He died on April 12.




Traci Braxton – Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty

Traci Renee Braxton, 50

Born: April 2, 1971 in Severn, Maryland

Singer, actress and reality television/radio personality Traci Braxton is the sister of R&B star Toni Braxton. She released two albums and starred in a series of reality television shows about her family and marriage including Braxton Family Values and Marriage Boot Camp. Traci Braxton died on March 12.



Johnny Brown – Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty

Johnny Brown, 84

Born: June 11, 1937 in St. Petersburg, Florida

Johnny Brown, Actor, comedian and singer Johnny Brown best known for as the superintendent Nathan Bookman on Good Times died on March 2.





Charley Taylor – Photo courtesy of Associated Press

Charley Taylor, 80

Born: Sept. 28, 1941 in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Professional football player Charles Robert Taylor was a wide receiver for 13 seasons with the Washington Redskins. He’s a six-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowl selection and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984. He died on Feb. 19




Bill Owens – Photo courtesy of public domain on wikimedia

Bill Owens, 84

Born: July 6, 1937 in Demopolis, Alabama

As the first Black state senator in Massachusetts Bill Owens fought for racial justice and economic inequality and was one of the first to call for reparations for the descendants of Black slaves. He died on Jan. 22.




Andre Leon Talley by David Shankbone

André Leon Talley, 73

Born: Oct. 16, 1948 in White Plains, New York

Fashion journalist, stylist, creative director and editor-at-large of Vogue magazine André Leon Talley died on Jan. 18. He was the magazine’s fashion news director from 1983 to 1987 and its first African American male creative director from 1988 to 1995. He was known for supporting emerging designers and advocating for diversity in the fashion industry.



Luisa Harris – Photo by USA Basketball

Lusia Harris, 66

Born: Feb. 10, 1955 in Minter City, Mississippi

One of the original pioneers of women’s basketball, Luisa Harris was known as the “Queen of Basketball” earning significant honors, championships, and braking barriers in the sport. She played basketball with the Houston Angels in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, a predecessor to the WNBA, and was the first and only woman ever officially drafted by the NBA. Harris died on Jan. 18.


Ronnie Spector- Photo by James Kriegsmann

Veronica Yvette Greenfield AKA Ronnie Spector, 78

Born: Jan. 12, 2022 in New York City, New York

American singer Ronnie Spector co-founded and fronted the girl group The Ronettes. She died on Jan. 12. After leaving group in 1980, she released her debut solo album Siren and then hit a slump. Her career revived when she was featured on Eddie Money’s song and video Take Me Home Tonight in 1986, a Billboard top five single. She went on to release 4 additional albums. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Ronettes in 2007.


James Mtume – Photo by David Corio/Getty

James Forman AKA James Mtume, 76

Born: Jan. 3, 1946 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Jazz and R&B musician, songwriter, record producer, activist and radio personality hit fame when he worked with Miles Davis between 1971 and 1975. He died on Jan. 9. His R&B group, Mtume, is best known for the 1983 R&B hit song Juicy Fruit, which has been sampled repeatedly. The band had a top-five R&B hit with the single You, Me, and He.



Lani_Guinier – Photo by John Mathew Smith

Lani Guinier, 71

Born: April 19, 1950 in New York City, New York

Educator, legal scholar and Civil Rights Theorist Lani Guinier was the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the first woman of color given tenure at the school. She died on Jan. 7.




Sidney Poitier in For Love of Ivy – Public Domain photo

Sidney Poitier, 94

Born: Feb. 20, 1927 in Miami, Florida

Actor, film director and diplomat Sidney Poitier died on Jan. 6. He was the first Black actor and first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964. He was considered on of the last remaining stars from the Golden age of Hollywood. Along with many other awards and honors, Poitier received Poitier was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Read more about his story HERE.


Sources: Associate Press, NewsOne, CNN, Guinness World Records, ESPN,, WBSS Media, The Hollywood Reporter

Charity Chukwu is the copy editor and social media manager at The Dallas Examiner. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014 with a Bachelor of Journalism concentrating in copyediting...

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