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Black Lives We Lost In 2018

In 2018, we lost many prominent and famous African-Americans. The list includes, The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin,  a close personal friend of mine, The Strong Island rapper who put the ‘Flava In Ya Ear,’ Craig Mack to Dr. Olivia J. Hooker to Kim Porter to ‘Papa” Joe Jackson, just to name a few. The lost to our community was great.

To quote, “As we enter another year, where the fight for equality, dignity and freedom is necessary to our survival, let’s remember those who made an impact, both good and bad and fought for us to be where we are, paved paths for us to follow or simply tried to live in their truth in an ever-hostile world, where the issue of whether black lives do matter is still a topic of debate.”

Black Westchester looks back at some of the notable African-American who died in 2018.


On Wednesday, December 5th the world paused to observe a day of mourning for the 41st President George H.W. Bush. Westchester County mourned one of its own, Dr. Olivia J. Hooker who passed away two weeks prior, on Wednesday November 21st. She was 103 years old. Unlike the former president, there was no non stop national television coverage on every network, but make no mistake her death was equally as important to the Black Community and to the town of Greenburgh, we loss our national treasure. Just ask any historian from Greenburgh, New York to Tulsa, Oklahoma, if you have any doubt.
Olivia Juliette Hooker (February 12, 1915 – November 21, 2018) was a psychologist, a distinguished professor of psychology at Fordham University, as well as a leader in various civic, community, cultural, and educational organizations, including the NAACP. She was the last known survivor of Black Wall Street and the first African-American woman to enter the U.S. Coast Guard in February 1945.
For those who may be too young to know, home to over 10,000 Black residents, Black Wall Street, also known as the Greenwood neighborhood a 35-block radius in the segregated community thriving with hundreds of businesses, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was one of the most prominent concentrations of African-American businesses in the United States during the early 20th century.
That was until the massacre. Later called the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, white residents massacred hundreds of black residents and torched the neighborhood within hours. The riot was one of the most devastating
massacres in the history of U.S. race relations, destroying the once thriving Greenwood community. Black Westchester celebrates her life and salutes Dr. Olivia Hooker, our national treasure, her legacy will live on forever.


Known as The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in 1987), and an Icon honoree at Billboard’s 2014 Women in Music celebration, She was a revered living legend and one of the most prolific singers of our time. She’s also won 18 Grammy Awards, was a Kennedy Center Honoree, and, for her humanitarian work, earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Aretha’s influence on popular music as a whole is undeniable and well-documented, but her considerable contributions to hip-hop and R&B specifically can be easy to overlook. Aretha was sampled over 428 times not to mention the 373 covers, and 15 remixes of catolog.
The list of popular (and more often than not, socially aware) artists who have sampled the Queen of Soul’s music includes Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Kanye West,
Master P, A Tribe Called Quest, T.I., Slum Village, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One,
Whodini, Talib Kweli, Nas, Snoop, JAY-Z, OutKast, Lupe Fiasco, Dr. Dre, and Styles P.
One hip-hop group who have always paid special attention to the righteous power songstress brought to her music is Public Enemy. Franklin’s “Rock Steady” was sampled on several PE records, including “MiUzi Weighs a Ton,” “Shut ‘Em Down” and “Night of the Living Baseheads” as well as on the first single “Six Feet Back On The Map,” of my group JVC FORCE’s third album.
“[Public Enemy] also understood the history of black music,” Chuck D explained in 2013. When it came to the ‘60s and ‘70s those black music artists were like aunts and uncles to us. … I felt like Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin were family. They were getting played and cosigned by our people in your house… You had to have a respect for these records and for what they meant and where they came from.”



Shout out to my homie, Craig Mack, I’m going to miss you my brother. Before the world would come to know him when he signed to Bad Boy and put that Flava In Ya Ear, when I lived in Central Islip and was dropping Strong Island in 1988, he was in the next town Brentwood, like 10-15 blocks away dropping the underground classic Hip-Hop joint, ‘Get Retarted’ under the name MC EZ & Troup with DJ Diamond. I remember the freestyle sessions in DJ Curt Cazal’s garage and playing video games all day in my basement at my mom’s crib. I remember being so proud when he signed and was one of the artist that laid foundation of Diddy’s Bad Boy Records and seeing him rocked the stages with Biggie and finally getting that worldwide acclaim in 1994, he worked so hard for. The passing of Craig Jamieson Mack (May 10. 1970-March 12, 2018) was not just the lost to Hip-Hop, but another one of my homies who will never see this side of 50. He died of heart failure at a hospital near his Walterboro, S.C., home at the age of 46. Da Mackolicious may be gone but not forgotten!

Kevin “Lovebug Starski” Smith
Smith was a legendary emcee and DJ from the Bronx who arrived at the birth of the hip-hop scene in the 1970s and was often discussed along with pioneers such as Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool Herc. A DJ at the Disco Fever Club, his most popular singles were “Gangster Rock” and “Dancin’ Party People.” He died Feb. 8 in Las Vegas of a heart attack. He was 57 years old.

Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson has died, aged 89 on June 24th. The music manager and father to 11 children, including pop superstar Michael and Janet Jackson, was being cared for in a hospital in Las Vegas. Jackson was said to be in the final stages of terminal cancer. He had previously suffered a stroke in São Paulo in 2015, along with a number of heart attacks.
Joe Jackson’s legacy is the shaping and promotion of the Jackson 5, comprising his sons Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael, and later Randy. The young family band from Gary, Indiana, became a phenomenon in the late 1960s and 70s, with their first four singles, I Want You Back in 1969, and ABC, The Love You Save and I’ll Be There in 1970, topping the Billboard charts

Kim Porter
The model and actress, who was also Sean “Diddy” Combs’ former longtime girlfriend, died on Nov. 15 after a weeks-long fight with pneumonia. Porter is survived by her four children: an eldest son with Mount Vernon native Al. B Sure! and three children—a son and twin girls—with Combs. She was 47 years old.

Dennis Edwards
The Motown vocalist became part of the Temptations in 1968, adding his distinctive croon to the group’s hits, including “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” Edwards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Temptation in 1989. He died in Chicago on Feb. 1 after a long illness. Edwards was 74 years old.
Even as he helped The Temptations reach new heights of popularity, Dennis Edwards never stopped dreaming of solo stardom. He released his first single (the Northern Soul stomper “I Didn’t Have To (But I Did)”) nearly two decades before his second — but the wait was worth it.
The title track to his 1984 album Don’t Look Any Further peaked at No. 2 on the R&B chart. “Don’t Look Any Further” was a landmark R&B recording, due partly to Edwards’ and Garrett’s interplay, and partly to Paul Jackson Jr.’s iconic bassline. That bassline — quietly funky, resolving like a syllogism — served as the bedrock for dozens of hip-hop, R&B, and pop tracks in the decades to follow, some of which have become just as iconic as their source like Eric B. & Rakim, “Paid in Full” (1987), Junior M.A.F.I.A., “Gettin’ Money (The Get Money Remix)” (1995), 2Pac ft. Outlawz, “Hit ‘Em Up” (1996), Mary Mary, “Shackles (Praise You)” (1999) just to name a few.

Nancy Wilson
An award-winning singer, Wilson was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1937. She began singing at church, and after winning a high school talent contest, moved to New York to record songs with Julian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderley. Some of her most known songs are “Guess Who I Saw Today,” “Face It Girl, It’s Over,” “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,” and “The Things We Did Last Summer.” After a long illness, Wilson died in Pioneertown, Calif., on Dec. 13 at the age of 81.


Ntozake Shange
The award-winning playwright, performer and author wrote to the souls of black girls around the world. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf is the work she’s most known for, and for which she won an Obie Award in 1976. Her poetry defied genres and reached across racism and sexism, touching whoever came in contact with her pure expressions of love. On Oct. 27 in Bowie, Md., Shange died in her sleep, peacefully, at 70 years old.

Les Payne
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist was an investigative reporter, respected editor and columnist for Newsday, and co-founder and fourth president of the National Association of Black Journalists. From involuntary sterilization to Long Island migrant farm workers, the Black Panther Party and Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Payne covered various aspects of American life. He died in Harlem, N.Y., on March 19 after a massive heart attack. He was 76 years old.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
An icon of the fight against South African apartheid, this activist, who was the former wife of Nelson Mandela, the first black president in South Africa’s history, died April 2 in Johannesburg, South Africa, after a long undisclosed illness. She was 81 years old.

Frankie Muse Freeman
A civil rights attorney, activist and icon, Freeman was born in segregated Virginia in 1916. After graduating from Howard University law school in 1947, she had a tough time finding a job as a lawyer. Two years later, she became legal counsel for the NAACP in its suit against the St. Louis Board of Education, and in 1954, was lead attorney in Davis v. the St. Louis Housing Authority, which ended legal racial discrimination in the city. Freeman was the first woman appointed to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, a position she held for 13 years over four presidencies. She died in St. Louis on Jan. 12 at 101 years old.

Kofi Annan
A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Annan was a former secretary-general of the United Nations. Born in Kumasi, Ghana, in 1938, he fought for a fair and peaceful world. He died Aug. 18 in Bern, Switzerland, after a short illness. He was 80 years old.

Antwon Rose Jr.
On June 19, Rose, who was unarmed, was shot by East Pittsburgh, Pa., Officer Michael Rosfeld while fleeing during a traffic stop. He died later at a hospital at 17 years old. A week later, Officer Rosfeld was charged with criminal homicide, and in December, it was reported that Rose’s parents are suing the University of Pittsburgh—Rosfeld’s former employer—for failing to discipline him or document performance issues in his personnel file, which would have kept the police department from hiring him.

Richard Shipley
Shipley, who called for peace in the wake of his stepson Freddie Gray’s death, died on Feb. 6 at 60 years old. Also known as Rick, he was recognized for his calm response to Gray’s death as a result of injuries sustained while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department.

Reg E. Cathey
Born Reginald Eugene Cathey in 1958, he began his acting career in 1984. His best-known television roles were Norman Wilson on “The Wire”, Martin Querns on “Oz” and Freddy Hayes on “House of Cards”. In 2014 and 2016, he received Emmy nominations for his role as Freddy, winning for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama for the role in 2015. Last year, he made an appearance in “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”co-starring Oprah Winfrey. He died in New York City on Feb. 9 at 59 years old after a long battle with lung cancer.

Lerone Bennett Jr.
Lerone Bennett Jr., 89, was an African American history author and former editor of Ebony magazine. He died on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2018.

DuShon Monique Brown
DuShon Monique Brown, 49, was an actress who starred in the series “Chicago Fire.” She died on Friday, March 23, 2018.

Linda Brown
Linda Brown, 75, was an elementary school student at the center of the 1954 Brown v. Board case that ended school segregation in schools. She died on Sunday, March 25, 2018.

Ed Charles
Ed Charles, 84, was an former New York Mets player and poet laureate on the 1969 World Series championship team. He died on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Peggy Cooper Cafritz
Peggy Cooper Cafritz, 70, was a arts collector and philanthropist. She died on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018.

Dorothy Cotton
Dorothy Cotton, 88, was a civil rights pioneer who worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. She died on Sunday, June 10, 2018.

Hugh Dane
Hugh Dane, 75, was an actor on “The Office” series. He died on Friday, May 16, 2018.

Frances Taylor Davis

Frances Taylor Davis, 89, was the first wife of music icon Miles Davis. She died on Saturday, Nov, 17, 2018.

Ron Dellums
Ron Dellums, 82, was a former U.S. representative and mayor of Oakland. He died on Monday, July 30, 2018.

Oscar Gamble
Oscar Gamble, 68, was an outfielder who hit 200 home runs over 17 major league seasons. He died on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, of a rare tumor of the jaw.

Hal Greer
Hal Greer, 81, was a Hall of Fame guard and the Philadelphia 76ers’ career leading scorer. He died on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

Young Greatness
Young Greatness, 34, was a rapper. He was fatally shot on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, outside of a New Orleans Waffle House.

Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove, 49, was an award winning jazz trumpeter. He died on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, of cardiac arrest stemming from a longtime fight with kidney disease.

Edwin Hawkins
Edwin Hawkins, 74, was known for the gospel hit, “Oh Happy Day.” He died on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

Ron Johnson
Ron Johnson, 71, was the a former New York Giants running back and the first Black player to be a captain of the Michigan football team. He died on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 after battling Alzheimer’s disease.

Keorapetse Kgositsile
Keorapetse Kgositsile, 79, was a South African poet and activist. He died on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018.

Dovey Johnson Roundtree
Dovey Johnson Roundtree, 104, was a criminal defense lawyer and civil rights activist. She died on Wednesday, May 21, 2018.

Mik Kilgore
Mik Kilgore, 48, was a former West Philadelphia High School and Temple University basketball star. He died on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018 from complications of a heart attack.

Johnny Kline
Johnny Kline, 86, was a forward for the Harlem Globetrotters. He died on Thursday, July 26, 2018.

Denise LaSalle
Denise LaSalle, 78, was a R&B singer and songwriter. She died on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018.

Lyric McHenry
Lyric McHenry, 26, was a reality TV star and aspiring filmmaker. She died on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, of a drug overdose.

Willie McCovey
Willie McCovey, 80, was a San Francisco Giants legend and hall of famer. He died on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2018.

Raye Montague
Raye Montague, 83, was a naval engineer credited with creating the first computer-generated rough draft of a U.S. naval ship. She died on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, of congestive heart failure.

Arthur Mitchell
Arthur Mitchell, 84, was the co-founder of the Dance Theater of Harlem. He died on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018.

Hugh Masekela
Hugh Masekela, 78, was a trumpeter and anti-apartheid activist. He died on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

Thad Mumford
Thad Mumford, 67, was a pioneering TV writer and producer. He died on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

Charles Neville
Charles Neville, 79, was the saxophonist in the New Orleans band, the Neville Brothers. He died on Thursday, April 26, 2018 of pancreatic cancer.

Richard Overton
Richard Overton, 112, was the nation’s oldest World War II veteran. He died on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018.

Barry Rand
Barry Rand, 74, was one of the few African Americans to become chief executive of a Fortune 500 company. He died on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.

Baba Oje
Baba Oje, 87, was the spiritual advisor for the hip-hop group Arrested Development. He died on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, after battling acute leukemia.

Vel Phillips
Vel Phillips, 95, was a pioneering civil rights activist who fought against housing discrimination. She died on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

Ntozake Shange
Ntozake Shange, 70, was a playwright who wrote “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf.” She died on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.

Chelsi Smith
Chelsi Smith, 45, was the only Texas woman to win both Miss USA and Miss Universe titles. She died on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 after battling liver cancer.

Yvonne Staples
Yvonne Staples, 80, was a singer in the family gospel group, The Staple Singers. She died on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

George Taliaferro
George Taliaferro, 91, was the first African American player drafted by an NFL team. He died on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018.

Wally Triplett
Wally Triplett, 92, was a trailblazing running back who was one of the first African-Americans drafted by an NFL team. He died on Thursday, Nov. 8. 2018.

Zeke Upshaw
Zeke Upshaw, 26, was a G League basketball player. He died on Monday, March 26, 2018, after collapsing on the basketball court.

George Walker
George Walker, 96, was the first Pulitzer Prize-winning African American composer. He died on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.

Randy Weston
Randy Weston, 92 was a renowned jazz pianist. He died on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018.

Raven Wilkerson
Raven Wilkerson, 83, was the first African American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company. She died on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018.

Jo Jo White
Jo Jo White, 71, was a two-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics, an Olympic gold medalist and a Basketball Hall of Famer. He died on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.

XXXTentacion, 20, was a rapper. He died on Monday, June 18, 2018.


About AJ Woodson (2406 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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