**FILE** Sidney Poitier (www.celebrity-photos.com via Wikimedia Commons)
**FILE** Sidney Poitier (www.celebrity-photos.com via Wikimedia Commons)

The world, nation and Washington, D.C., area alike lost icons from all walks of life in 2022. Among those who died were many national and local musicians, actors, sports veterans as well as news legends.


Max Julien (July 12, 1933– Jan. 1): Born in Washington, D.C., Maxwell Julien Banks, known by his stage name “Max Julien,” was actor who starred as Goldie in the 1973 film “The Mack.”

Sidney Poitier (February 20, 1927 – Jan. 6): was a legendary, barrier-breaking actor, film director and diplomat. In 1964, he became the first black actor and first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.  

James Forman (January 3, 1946 – Jan. 9): known professionally as James Mtume, was an American jazz and R&B musician, songwriter, record producer, activist, and radio personality. 


Charles Robert Taylor (September 28, 1941– Feb. 19): Taylor was a wide receiver for 13 seasons with the Washington franchise of the National Football League. Taylor. 

After playing college football for the Arizona State Sun Devils, Taylor was selected by Washington in the first round of the 1964 NFL Draft and inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1984. 


Johnny Brown (June 11, 1937 – March 2): was an American actor and singer. He was most famous for his role as “Bookman,” on Good Times. 

Renee Poussaint (August 12, 1944–March 4): Pouissant, a former network correspondent for both CBS and ABC, was the recipient of three national Emmy awards for reporting on ABC’s PrimeTime Live.  

During her time at ABC, Poussaint  interviewed icons in many fields across the US and after retiring she was an independent documentary maker and a professor at the University of Maryland’s Merrill College of Journalism.

Traci Renee Braxton (April 2, 1971 – March 12): was an American singer, reality television personality, and radio show host. 

Braxton was born in Severn, Maryland. She was the third child of Michael Conrad Braxton Sr., a Methodist minister and Evelyn Jackson, a former opera singer, pastor and postal worker. 

Braxton has an older brother, Michael Jr. (born in 1968), and four sisters, Toni (born in 1967), Towanda (born in 1973), Trina (born in 1974) and Tamar (born in 1977).

Rev. Dr. Emmett C. Burns Jr. (August 26, 1940– March 17): a former Maryland delegate and civil rights leader. 

LaShun Pace (September 6, 1961– March 21): Pace was a Grammy-nominated gospel singer known for such songs as “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” (1991) and “Act Like You Know” (1996).


Chester “Bruce,”  Johnson (June 5, 1950– April 3): A veteran television anchorman in the greater Washington area, Johnson was a trusted voice on WUSA9 for more than four decades. He suffered a fatal heart attack in Delaware at the age of 71.  

Johnson displayed passion, creativity, street savvy and tenacity throughout his career at Channel 9. He earned multiple awards for delivering breaking news, he set the bar for producing innovative news segments that both challenged and debunked long-held stereotypes about members of the Black community.  

Even after retiring from WUSA on December 31, 2020, he continued to share his gift as a storyteller committed to uncovering and reporting the truth, even if it meant breaking with the status quo. Free from the demands of day-to-day assignments, he maintained his passion as a journalist, completing three books, mentoring young reporters and accepting on-air projects which he often produced from his home.  


Kevin Samuels (March 13, 1965– May 5): Samuels, 53, was a Youtube and social media with 1.4 million subscribers on YouTube, and known for his shows focused on dating and relationships. Critics and activists have said Samuels’ opinions were often seen as attacks on women. 

Robert “Bob,” Jerry Lanier Jr. (September 10, 1948 – May 10): was an American professional basketball player who was a center for the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Lanier was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. 


Trudy Haynes (November 23, 1926– June 7): An Emmy-winning journalist, Haynes was Philadelphia’s first Black television reporter and died at the age of 95.


William “Poogie” Hart ( January 17, 1945– July 14): Hart was a founder of the Grammy-winning trio the Delfonics who helped write and sang a soft lead tenor on popular “Sound of Philadelphia” ballads as “La-La (Means I Love You)” and “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), died at a hospital in Philadelphia at age 77. 
His son Hadi told the New York Times the cause was complications from a surgery.

From the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, the Delfonics had six Top 40 pop hits and more than a dozen Top 20 R&B hits. With Thom Bell serving as producer and co-writer, their sound was defined by the rich orchestral arrangements and layered harmonies 

Mary Alice (December 3, 1936- July 27): Born in Mississippi, Alice was an actress, known for her roles in The Matrix Revolutions (2003), Awakenings (1990), Malcolm X (1992), and as “Effie Williiams” in the 1976 film Sparkle and as  Letitia “Lettie” Bostic in “A Different World” (1987-1989).

Nichelle Nichols (December 28, 1932 – July 30): Born Grace Dell Nichols, the American actress, singer and dancer was known for her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in the Star Trek series. She  died at the age of 89. 

William Felton “Bill,” Russell (February 12, 1934- July 31): Russell, was the center for the NBA’s Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969. He was a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) and a 12-time NBA All-Star. The basketball legend was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career. 

Russell is considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He led the San Francisco Dons to two consecutive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956 and he was captain of the gold-medal winning U.S. national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics.


Roger Earl Mosley (December 18, 1938 – August 7, 2022): was an actor, director, and writer best known for his role as the helicopter pilot Theodore “T.C.” Calvin in the CBS television series Magnum, P.I., which originally aired from 1980 until 1988. 

Mable John (November 3, 1930- Aug. 25): John, a pioneering Motown female singer, died this year at 91. Throughout her career, she toured with the likes of legendary singer Ray Charles and later in life she ministered to the homeless in Los Angeles.  


Earnie Shavers (August 31, 1944– Sept. 1) Shavers was a boxer, known as one of the hardest punchers in boxing history. Despite his mighty fist, he never captured a world heavyweight championship in the 1970s. 

Shavers, 78, won 74 bouts during his career and  68 contests were by knockouts. He lost 14 fights and fought to one draw in a professional career that lasted from 1969 to 1995. 

In a 2016 interview on the cable television show “In This Corner,” Shavers recalled his fight with Muhammad Ali. 

“One of the best,” he said  in a New York Times article. But during the match Shaver nor Ali scored a knockdown inside a packed Madison Square Garden in New York  in a contest that went the distance, with a 15–round decision for Ali. 

David A. Arnold (March 15, 1968- Sept. 7):  was a comedian who wrote for the Netflix revival series “Fuller House” and created the Nickelodeon show “That Girl Lay Lay. 

Bernard Shaw (May 22, 1940– Sept. 7):  Shaw, 82, an unwavering anchor at CNN, was a media pioneer for the 24-hour news network for two decades. Shaw elevated  CNN to global prominence with his riveting coverage of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Queen Elizabeth II ( April 21, 1926 – Sept. 8) Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms. 

Queen Elizabeth ruled 70 years and 214 days was the longest of any British monarch and the longest verified reign of any female monarch in history. 

Ramsey Lewis (May 27, 1935– Sept. 12): Lewis, a pianist with the crossover hit “The ‘In’ Crowd,” died at 87. He helped launch the “soul jazz” movement, won three Grammys and was a radio and TV host. 

Marva Denise Hicks (May 5, 1956 – Sept. 16: was an American R&B singer and actress from Petersburg, Va. Hicks signed with Polydor in the late 1980s, recorded her self-titled album in 1991, and later worked in Broadway and on television. 

Hicks performed as Rafiki in “The Lion King,” as an understudy for the leading actress. Her other Broadway credits included “Motown: The Musical”, and “Lena Horne, The Lady and Her Music.” She is a three-time Helen Hayes Award winner for her work on stage.

On television, Hicks played T’Pel, the wife of Tuvok, in two episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, and appeared in several other recurring roles, including singing parts, in other series.

David C. Harrington (July 31, 1954- Sept. 20): An American politician from Maryland, Harrington was a member of the Democratic Party and a former member of the Maryland State Senate. From 2008 to 2022, Harrington served as president and CEO of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce.

Stephanie Dabney (1958–Sept. 28: acclaimed ballerina who inspired Black dancers, died at 64. She gained international renown for her role in the Dance Theater of Harlem’s modern take of “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky. 

Artis Leon “Coolio” Ivey Jr. (August 1, 1963– Sept. 28): Coolio, 59, was a h hip-hop star known for such hits as “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson (May 17, 1962– Sept. 30): Known by his stage-name “Wonderboy,” Johnson, 50, was a gospel artist known for “Let Go and Let God Have His Way,” “Be Right,” and “Hide Behind the Mountain.” 


Jim Redmond (Oct. 2): Redmond, 81, was part of one of the most memorable moments in Olympics history, when he helped his son, Derek Redmond, cross the finish line during track and field event in1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, after he pulled a hamstring.

Charles Fuller (1939- Oct. 3): Fuller, who won Pulitzer for ‘A Soldier’s Play,’ died at 83. 

Charles Sherrod (January 2, 1937– Oct.11): Sherrod, 85, was a Civil Rights activist, who led the Albany Movement, a campaign to desegregate the south Georgia community.  

The effort drew organizers including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and other members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC.) 

Sherrod  was a student of religion at Virginia Union University, which was 30 miles away from his home in Petersburg, where he helped to organize sit-ins at department stores in Richmond.  

He was arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina with fellow student activists Diane Nash, Ruby Doris Smith, and Charles Jones. The three pioneered SNCC’s “Jail-No-Bail” strategy, serving out the full 30-day sentence.  

In the fall of 1961, Sherrod and Nashville, Tennessee activist Cordell Reagon, began working in Albany, where they staged many rallies. 

Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III (1949– Oct. 28) the longtime pastor of New York’s Abyssinian Baptist Church and former president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, died of cancer at age 73.

Abyssinian, founded in 1808, is still considered the largest and most prominent African American congregation in New York, and Butts was the third pastor behind former Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr.   

Butts founded the non-profit Abyssinian Development Corporation, which grew into a multimillion-dollar economic advocacy organization for the Harlem community, with more than $37 million in total revenue.   


Lois Curtis (1967– Nov. 3):  Curtis, an artist and advocate for disability rights, died at 55. She was the lead plaintiff in a landmark Supreme Court decision that gave people with disabilities the right to seek care services in their own homes and communities, not just in institution.

Irene Cara (March 18, 1959– Nov. 25): Irene Cara Escalera, 63, was an American singer, songwriter and actress, who stole the heart of a generation in the 1980’s. Cara, a native of the Bronx, was beautiful star of African, Puerto Rican, and Cuban descent. She rose to prominence for her role as Coco Hernandez in the 1980 musical Fame She recorded the film’s title song “Fame”, which reached No. 1 in the US and several other countries.  

Cara, who died Nov. 25, is one of the most awarded artists of her generation. She won Grammy awards  both as a vocalist and a songwriter. She also won a Golden Globe Award as well as a nomination for Best Supporting Actress and a People’s Choice Award. 

Her most recent musical project was called “Irene Cara presents Hot Caramel.” The two disk set featured a variety of female musicians and singers. 

Clarence Gilyard Jr. (December 24, 1955- Nov. 28): was an actor and academic known for roles in such TV series as “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Matlock” and films including “Bleacher Bums,” where one magazine called him “the first Black actor to play a cheerleader,” and Rev. Bruce Barnes in “Left Behind: The Movie,” and its sequel. 

Gilyard, who was 66, taught at the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ College of Fine Arts, where he was a film and theater professor.

Eddie Jones (Nov. 28): Jones, a local soul singer and guitarist who spent more than five decades as a staple of Washington’s stages and musical celebrations died at the age of 69.

R&B and soul singer Jone from DC Who also was a noted guitarist. 


Kirstie Alley (January 12, 1951 – Dec. 5): Alley, 71, was an actress whose breakout role was as Rebecca Howe in the NBC sitcom “Cheers” (1987–1993). During her more than three-decades–long career she received several Emmy and Golden Globe awards.  

Stephen “tWitch” Boss (September 29, 1982– Dec 13.): Boss, 40, the popular DJ for the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” and dancer who rose to fame on “So You Think You Can Dance,” died Dec. 12. The Los Angeles police said Boss died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. They said Boss’ wife Allison Holker ran into an LAPD station and reported him missing after he left his car at home.  

The death of the popular DJ was a devastating blow to DeGeneres, his colleagues, celebrities  and fans. He leaves behind his wife and their three children.

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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