Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks Who We’ve Lost In 2023 was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
1. Kool & The Gang Drummer George ‘Funky’ Brown Dead at 74
2. NBA All Star Walter Davis
3. Richard Roundtree, Legendary Star of “Shaft,” Dies at 81
4. Rudolph Bernard
5. Irish Grinstead, SingerSource:Getty
On Saturday (Sept 16), group member Irish Grinstead passed away, according to Lemisha Grinstead, her sister and fellow groupmate.
“It is with great sadness that I have to let you know that my beautiful sister and friend has passed away this evening,” Lemisha’s post read. “She has had a long battle and she is finally at peace. That girl was as bright as the stars! She was not only beautiful on the outside, but also within. Sharing the stage with her was a joy I will cherish for the rest of my life! We, the family ask for prayers and respect for our privacy as we grieve an outstanding loss to our family. Love always, Misha.”
6. Former NFL wide receiver Mike Williams
The Buccaneers organization released a statement sending their condolences to the family.
“We are saddened to hear of the untimely death of Mike Williams, which has left our organization, his former teammates and fans with very heavy hearts,” said the Bucs organization. “We send our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones as they mourn this tragedy.”
7. Brandon Hunter, NBA Player
Former NBA player Brandon Hunter died this week at the age of 42. His cause of death has not been publicly released. Hunter was a standout player at Ohio University, earning three All-MAC First Team awards. The Cincinnati native was the 56th overall pick in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft. He played his NBA ball with the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.
“We are terribly saddened to learn of the loss of our former teammate, Brandon Hunter,” the team said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to the entire Hunter family.”
8. Bill Pinkney, American Sailor
Bill Pinkney, the first Black American to sail around the world solo via the Capes died this week at the age of 87.
According to reports, Pinkney died after complications from falling down a staircase. He suffered a serious brain injury from the fall.
Captain Bill Pinkney was most known for his adventures on the water. In 1992 the Black sailor sailed around the world by himself, leaving from Boston, sailing around Cape Horn and returning to Boston.
“My original plan was to sail around the world on a 35-footer as inspiration for my two grandchildren, Pinkney told Boat US. “It became something much bigger when I got some sponsorship, added an educational component, and ultimately developed a curriculum for school kids in Chicago and Boston.”
One of Pinkney’s greatest memories from his trip around the world was sailing around South Africa just weeks after Nelson Mandela was released from jail after almost three decades in prison.
“I sailed past Robben Island, where he’d been imprisoned, flying a red, black, and green spinnaker, the colors of the African liberation movement,” Pinkney told Boat US. “As an afterthought, I should’ve put a big yellow Star of David on there as well [laughing], because I’m Jewish.”
Pinkney also made it a mission to sail the Middle Passage slave trade routes and has won a handful of awards, including being inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2021 and receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award. He also would go on to write a children’s book about his experiences as a Black sailor.
“I had some tough times, I got knocked down twice, passed through two hurricanes, almost got run over by a big ship, it’s all adversity, but it ends. You have to stick to your guns and keep moving forward and it will end,” Pinkney once told Fox 32.
“Being Black never stopped Bill,” said his window Migdalia. “Being Black never stopped Bill. The racism in the U.S. never stopped Bill. People telling him he couldn’t do things never stopped him. People telling him he was too old–He did sail around the world when he was 55! If he believed people that he was old, he would have never done it.”
From Atlanta First News:
Pinkney was not the first Black man to sail around the world alone; that honor belongs to Teddy Seymour, who completed the journey by sailing through the Panama and Suez Canals.
Seymour completed the trip in 1987. According to the Bay State Banner, he traveled through the Suez Canal to avoid Durban, South Africa, which was still under a racist apartheid policy.
His trip around the world was over 27,000 miles and took 22 months to complete.
Pinkney also sailed the Great Lakes as well as several oceans for over his 30-year career on the water.
9. Ron Cephas JonesSource:Getty
Actor Ron Cephas Jones, best known for playing William Hill on ‘This Is Us,’ passed away at the age of 66 reportedly after a “long-standing pulmonary issue.”
11. Clarence Avant
12. Willie Perry Jr. AKA DJ Casper
13. Charles Ogletree
14. Gillie Da King’s Son, YNG Cheese Shot & Killed at Age 25
15. 2Pac’s Stepfather, Dr. Mutulu Shakur
16. Ray Lewis son, Ray Lewis III
17. Sheldon Reynolds
18. Tori Bowie
19. Harry Belafonte
20. Ahmad Jamal
21. Randall Robinson
22. Former Atlanta Hawks Coach, Willis Reed
23. Barrett Strong
24. Brandon Smiley
25. Jesse Lemonier
26. CJ Harris
27. Arthur Duncan
28. Charles White
29. Kevin Lemons
30. Gordy Harmon
31. Uche Nwaneri
32. Gangsta Boo, 43Source:Getty
Mitchell was the second woman to join Three 6 Mafia in the early ’90s, and after her departure from the group, she continued to record mixtapes and appear on singles from the likes of Gucci Mane, La Chat, and more. When she was fifteen, she contributed to Three 6’s Mystic Stylez album and remained a fixture in Memphis through her untimely passing.
33. Anita Pointer, 74 (December 31st)Source:Getty
Pointer’s family, in a statement obtained by CBS News, said, “While we are deeply saddened by the loss of Anita, we are comforted in knowing she is now with her daughter, Jada and her sisters June & Bonnie and at peace. She was the one that kept all of us close and together for so long. Her love of our family will live on in each of us. Please respect our privacy during this period of grief and loss. Heaven is a more loving, beautiful place with Anita there.”
Pointer is preceded in death by her only daughter Jada, who passed in 2003, and sisters Bonnie and June, who passed in 2020 and 2006 respectively.