The tragic announcement that Chadwick Boseman lost his life to colon cancer last week was alarming on its own. After all, to say that the talented 43-year-old actor was young is an understatement. But a closer look at the circumstances surrounding Boseman’s death reinforces an unfortunate truth: Black people are disproportionately diagnosed with colon cancer in a trend that also has heightened implications for Black men, in particular.
Boseman’s family said in a statement that the megastar filmed multiple movies “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” never once letting on in public that he was suffering from a type of cancer that is many times incorrectly believed to only affect older people. In fact — especially for Black people — colon cancer does not discriminate against age. It is, however, linked to “racism,” according to one prominent cancer researcher.
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“African-Americans are 40 percent more likely to die from colorectal cancer,” Rebecca L. Siegel, the American Cancer Society’s scientific director of surveillance research, recently told the New York Times. “It’s because of later-stage diagnosis, it’s because of systemic racism and all that this population has been dealing with for hundreds of years.”
Yes, it’s true that 40.4 percent of Black people account for all new colon cancer diagnoses. But the rate increases significantly when broken down along gender lines. Data shows that at 47.6 percent, nearly half of Black men accounted for all new cases of colon cancer. That is in comparison to 41.2 percent for white men. The same difference is true for Black women, who have a rate of 35.1 percent compared to 31.9 percent for white women.
The two groups’ death rates were similar until the 1980s when colon cancer began to kill Blacks at a higher rate than whites. Researchers say it’s not clear why Black mortality jumped in the 1980s, but it started a gap that continued to widen even after the black rate began to fall again.
There may not be a cure, but the CDC recommends people get colorectal cancer screening tests beginning at around the age of 50. However, that recommended age may need to be adjusted, considering Boseman was only 43 when he died after first being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016.
Cases of rectal cancers have increased faster than cancers found in other parts of the large and small intestines. Younger adults run the risk of being diagnosed with the cancer in the later course of the disease, as screening normally starts around mid-age. Scientists and doctors have noticed cancer rates had been falling because of the developments and use of precautionary screening tests like colonoscopies. But with the disease often associated with aging, this spike in the cancer affecting younger people has left doctors unsure of where to pinpoint the exact cause.
“We are seeing more people in their 30s and 40s who are developing colorectal cancers – often because they’re having symptoms that aren’t thought to be cancers,” Dr. Nilofer Azad, an associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, recently told USA Today.
It is with great sadness that I announce that James S. Jackson has passed. He was the Founder of the Program for Research on Black Americans. He was a mentor to numerous junior scholars who have become Deans, Department Chairs, Endowed Professors, and leaders in their fields. pic.twitter.com/sZmzAoCvlh
He was the 1st African American man to play professional #tennis, helping pave the way for other legends of the game. His strength, resilience & passion for tennis was outdone only by the love he showed for others. via @USPTA_Tennispic.twitter.com/tBhEEhihCa
12. John Lewis, civil rights icon and longtime Congressman, 80
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13. Rev. C.T. Vivian, civil rights pioneer associated with Martin Luther King, 95
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14. Jas 'JasFly' Waters, TV writer, 39
The entire #ThisIsUs family was devastated to learn of Jas Waters passing. In our time together, Jas left her mark on us and ALL over the show. She was a brilliant storyteller and a force of nature. We send our deepest sympathies to her loved ones. She was one of us. RIP @JasFly. pic.twitter.com/cmrh2OO8of
16. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler, 91
Tonight on @fox5dc at 10p - He served at the pleasure of 11 U.S. Presidents... during his 55 years at the White House. Last weekend, he passed from COVID-19. My exclusive interview with the granddaughter of White House butler, Wilson Jerman is next! pic.twitter.com/SBiXbQLiud
20. Fred L. Davis, civil rights activist and Memphis official, 86
We mourn the passing of former Councilman Fred L. Davis. His legacy is marked by his contributions to Memphis civil rights movements as he remains to be a pillar of justice for our community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/M5TwP7r3vh
The Igbo Conference team is sad to announce the death of TY Chijioke (Ben Chijioke), the Nigerian UK Rapper . He had been battling with COVID-19 and it was thought that he’d overcome the worst having emerged from intensive care last month. Sadly, the virus claimed his life. RIP pic.twitter.com/YMRksXq9lY
29. Al Edwards, former Texas State Rep. and Juneteenth champion, 83
Today, we mourn the loss of Al Edwards, a trailblazer who spent his career uplifting Black voices. He was the driving force behind making Juneteenth a state holiday. His countless contributions to our state, and to our Democratic movement, will never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/5TB7n40ziG
32. Mike Huckaby, techno and house music pioneer and DJ, 54
R.I.P Mike Huckaby. You will forever continue to change so many peoples lives with your music, technique and mentoring. These clips of Huck are from ‘Detroit The Blueprint Of Techno’ 💔 pic.twitter.com/8t8c83Uy2K
We are sad to announce Ms. Grace F. Edwards, long-time Director and Secretary Emeritus of the Harlem Writers Guild passed away on Feb. 28th, 2020 from natural causes. Plans for a memorial service have been delayed amid the pandemic.@harlemwritershttps://t.co/715hR93MyO
— Eartha Watts Hicks publisher of Earthatone Books (@Earthatone) April 13, 2020
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37. Samuel Hargress Jr., owner of legendary Harlem nightclub, 83
Thank You for your friendship Sam! 💔#RIP💔 Harlem's Paris Blues Jazz Club has been a celebrated local music joint since 1969, playing live jazz and blues nightly. It's owner and manager, Mr. Samuel Hargress Jr., has been in the club nearly every day for the past 51 years. 💫🔥💫 pic.twitter.com/oSM9Cbzzdb
BREAKING: One of Somalia’s greatest artists has died in London after contracting Corona Virus. Ahmed Ismail Hussein “Hudeydi” known as the “King of Oud” has been in hospital for four days. He was 92. pic.twitter.com/iCii8vYVVv
44. Ellis Marsalis Jr., legendary jazz pianist, 85
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45. Wallace Roney, jazz trumpeter, 59
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46. Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, civil right pioneer, 99
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47. Emma Cooper-Harris, first African American Mayor of Anguilla, Mississippi
I am extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Emma Cooper-Harris. A community organizer at heart, Emma was a civil rights icon in Mississippi. Among her many roles, Emma was the first African American Mayor of Anguilla from 2001 until 2005. pic.twitter.com/VI8sa8lOHA
48. Fred "Curly" Neal, Harlem Globetrotters legend, 77
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49. Rev. Darius L. Swann, civil rights activist, 95
The Rev. Darius L. Swann has died. He and his wife were lead plaintiffs in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the 1971 Supreme Court case that upheld busing as a tool for desegregating schools.
50. Airickca Gordon-Taylor, civil rights activist and Emmett Till's relative, 50
This clip will show you the giant heart of Airickca Gordon-Taylor (cousin of Emmett Till). Wherever other families lost loved ones to police violence, she came to support. This is April 4, 2018 in support of family of #JustusHowell, shot in back same day as Walter Scott RIPAGT pic.twitter.com/ltGyKMohmC
53. Roger Mayweather, boxing champion and trainer, 58
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54. Josie Harris, former longtime girlfriend of Floyd Mayweather, 40
Josie Harris, who was Mayweather’s longtime girlfriend, died Monday night, according to TMZ, which reported that the 40-year-old woman was found in her car at her home in the town of Valencia.https://t.co/kbLoHZTLOl
We are deeply saddened to share the news that Barbara Neely passed away earlier this week. She was recently named the 2020 Grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America & is best known as author of the groundbreaking Blanche White mystery series, which we are honored to publish. pic.twitter.com/tqwQkcYUbR
70. Nick Gordon, ex-boyfriend of Bobbi Kristina, 30
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Continue reading Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks We Lost In 2020
Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks We Lost In 2020
UPDATED: 9:00 a.m. ET, Sept. 12 --
While death is inevitably a part of life, that truth doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye to those who have died. We commemorate some of the notable Black folks who have died in 2020 is meant to pay homage to their contributions in life that will live on well after their deaths.
The sports world suffered back to back blows when baseball icon Lou Brock died Sept. 6 just about a week after college basketball coaching legend John Thompson's death. Brock was 81 years old. ESPN reminded readers that "Brock retired in 1979 as the single-season and all-time leader in stolen bases" and "was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1985."
Thompson died Aug. 31 at the age of 78. He first started coaching high school before Georgetown University hired him in 1972, ultimately going on to become the first Black head coach to win an NCAA championship when Georgetown beat the University of Houston in 1985. Read more about his life here.
Days earlier, actor Chadwick Boseman died after a yearslong battle with colon cancer. He died Aug. 28 at the age of 43.
Earlier in August, Bob Ryland, the first Black tennis player to go professional, died. He was 100 years old at the time of his death on Aug. 2.
"With an aggressive baseline style and dangerous, low-lying slice shot, Mr. Ryland was a dominant figure in 1940s and ’50s tennis tournaments — at least those that let him play," the Washington Post reported with a nod to the racism he experienced at the time.
Ryland notably coached Venus and Serena Williams when they played as juniors and was also a tennis instructor to celebrities, according to the United States Tennis Association.
Former professional wrestler James "Kamala the Ugandan" Harris has died, according to his biographer. Kenny Casanova made the announcement on his Facebook page and said Harris' cause of death was the coronavirus.
Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has died following a brief battle with the coronavirus. He died July 30 at the age of 74. Cain, who was also the former chair of the Kansas City Federal Reserve as well as the one-time chief executive of the Godfather's Pizza chain, was a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump. He may have contracted the coronavirus after attending a heavily attended rally for Trump without wearing a mask.
[caption id="attachment_3986777" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Source: NICHOLAS KAMM / Getty[/caption]
Cain's death occurred on the same day that Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the iconic civil rights pioneer who went on to become one of the most powerful men in Congress, was being buried in Atlanta. Lewis died on July 17 at the age of 80 following a battle with Stage IV pancreatic cancer that he announced late last year. You can read more about his legendary life by clicking here.
Jas Waters, a television writer also known as "JasFly" who penned scripts for hit shows like "This Is Us," has died, according to reports. She was just 39 years old. Waters' death was confirmed by the verified Twitter account for "This Is Us," which tweeted on June 10 that "The entire #ThisIsUs family was devastated to learn of Jas Waters passing. In our time together, Jas left her mark on us and ALL over the show. She was a brilliant storyteller and a force of nature. We send our deepest sympathies to her loved ones. She was one of us. RIP."
Waters' cause of death was not announced.
Bonnie Pointer, one of the four siblings who made up the hit singing group, The Pointer Sisters, has died. She was 69 years old. Family members said her cause of death was cardiac arrest. The second-youngest of the four sisters, who died on June 8, is credited for pushing her siblings to join with her to sing professionally.
“The Pointer Sisters would never have happened had it not been for Bonnie," Anita Pointer, the second-oldest sister, told USA Today in a statement. The Pointer Sisters peaked in the 1970s with a number of hit songs including "Fairy Tale," which won a Grammy for best country vocal performance by a duo or group.
Wes Unseld, the venerable NBA Hall of Fame player who was the star on the Washington Bullets' only championship team has died. The Washington Wizards announced that Unseld died June 2 "surrounded by family following lengthy health battles, most recently pneumonia." Unseld was 74 years old.
Read the full statement below.
Jimmy Cobb, the legendary jazz drummer who kept the beat going for many of the genre's greats including Miles Davis, died May 25. NPR reported that Cobb's wife confirmed the cause of death was lung cancer. He was 91 years old.
Earlier this year, his daughter announced her father was experiencing financial as well as medical problems. She reminded her father's fans of his accomplishments, including the fact that he "recorded the highest selling jazz record in history “Kind of Blue” at age 30." A GoFundMe account was started in January to raise money for Cobb's health care and was nearing $100,000 at the time of his death.
Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, a former longtime butler who worked in the White House, died following complications from the coronavirus. He was 91 years old. Jerman served 11 presidents, including Barack Obama, the nation's first Black commander-in-chief. Fox News reported that "Jerman worked at the White House from 1957 to 2012 as a cleaner, a doorman, and butler."
Shad Gaspard, a professional wrestler-turned actor and author, was found dead on May 20 after he went missing while swimming at a beach in California days earlier. He was just 39 years old. Gaspard, a former star with the WWE, was caught in a strong rip current with his 10-year-old son. Lifeguards responded but Garspard insisted they save his son first. Lifeguards said when they returned, “a wave had crashed over Mr. Shad Gaspard and he was swept out to sea.”
Actor Gregory Tyree Boyce was found dead in his Las Vegas condo on May 13, according to widespread reports. Boyce was 30 years old. He and his girlfriend were found dead together. Natalie Adepoju was 27 years old. There was no cause of death reported with the deaths. Boyce was best known for his roles in the movies "Twilight" in 2008 and "Apocalypse" in 2018.
Memphis civil rights activist, city councilmember and businessman Fred L. Davis, who marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during a historic labor strike, died on Tuesday following an illness. Davis made history when he was elected the Memphis City Council in 1967, joining two other newly elected Black people as the city's first African American council members. The next year, when the city's sanitation workers protested their working conditions and low pay, Davis and King were among those marching in the workers' support. Davis also opened one of the first Black-owned insurance companies in the south. In addition, he and his wife worked to desegregate the city's schools.
Davis' death followed a brutal spate of devastating losses from the music world.
Betty Wright, the award-winning R&B soul singer whose signature song went on to become a sampling standard in hip-hop music, died Sunday morning. She was 66 years old. Wright, whose cause of death was not immediately reported, had a career that spanned decades and evolved from its gospel roots to rhythm and blues to pop, the latter of which won her a pair of Grammy Awards.
https://twitter.com/SonAndPop/status/1259509570390634498?s=20As Bossip noted, Wright's hit song from 1971, "Clean Up Woman," has been sampled in music by contemporary artists ranging from Mary J Blige to Beyonce and still stands the test of time as a classic song in its own right.
Wright's death came after several other celebrated members of the Black music community also recently died. Legendary rock n' roll pioneer Little Richard died May 9 at the age of 87. The reports of his death followed that of iconic hip-hop executive Andre Harrell, who discovered Sean "Diddy" Combs. Harrell was 59 and died May 8.
Another of the most recent deaths reported was for legendary soul singer Bill Withers. He was 81 years old.
Prior to that, legendary jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. died at the age of 85 after suffering complications from the coronavirus. That followed the death of Wallace Roney, a jazz trumpeter who also tested positive or the COVID-19 disease.
Prior to that, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery, the man who was also known as the dean of civil rights, died March 27. Lowery was widely regarded as the top lieutenant for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and contributed to the civil rights movement in the most profound of ways that include working to end segregation on buses in Mobile, Alabama, before Rosa Parks as well as being a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He was 98 years old.
Some other notable Black folks who have died this year include the legendary NBA champion Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. The former Los Angeles Lakers star was just 41 years old. Emergency personnel responded to the accident, but there were no survivors. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was on the helicopter along with seven other people who all died, as well.
But there are others who died after living a full life of notable contributions to society, such as Katherine Johnson, the pioneering "Hidden Figures" NASA mathematician who died Feb. 24 at 101 years old. “She was an American hero and her pioneering legacy will never be forgotten,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote in a tweet when announcing her death.
https://twitter.com/JimBridenstine/status/1231946829962584065B. Smith, the restaurateur, lifestyle maven and esteemed businesswoman, died in February, according to her husband, Dan Gasby, who announced the news of his wife’s passing in a Facebook post. “It is with great sadness that my daughter Dana and I announce the passing of my wife, Barbara Elaine Smith,” he wrote. “B. died peacefully Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 10:50 pm, of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in our home in Long Island, New York. She was 70.”
Up-and-coming Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, known for his record “Welcome To The Party” was shot and killed in Hollywood Hills on the morning of Feb. 19. The rapper was at a Hollywood Hills home that he may have been renting when at least four men were suspected of breaking into the property wearing hoodies and masks, according to law enforcement sources. Multiple fires were shot, striking and critically wounding the Brooklyn rapper. The men, who have not yet been identified, were seen fleeing the scene on foot. It is unclear Pop Smoke he knew his killers. However, it has been reported that there was a party or gathering at the home before the alleged home invasion took place.
Pop Smoke was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood, where he was pronounced dead. He was 20 years old.
Famed actress Ja’Net DuBois, who played the role of Willona Woods on “Good Times,” died Feb. 18 at the age of 74. DuBois reportedly unexpectedly died in her sleep while at her Glendale, California home.
Veteran T.V. and movie actress, Esther Scott died Feb. 14 after suffering a heart attack days earlier. A family member announced that the actress, known for her roles in “Boyz N The Hood,” “90210,” “Birth of a Nation” and more, suffered a heart attack in her Santa Monica home and was later found unconscious. She was hospitalized and died days later. She was 66 years old.
Prior to that, the Jan. 9 death of Yolanda Carr, whose daughter, Atatiana Jefferson, was killed in her own home by police in Texas in November, was announced. Carr's death came a couple of months after Jefferson's father also died. His death was attributed in part to a broken heart while Carr's cause of death was not immediately confirmed. Studies have shown a direct correlation between people affected by police brutality and the deterioration of their health that “can lead to conditions such as diabetes, stroke, ulcers, cognitive impairment, autoimmune disorders, accelerated aging, and death.”
Legendary sports journalist Roscoe Nance also died Jan. 9 at the age of 71, according to an obituary published on the website of a funeral home in Alabama. Nance covered HBCU sports up until his death but was also an NBA reporter at one point. He was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in 105, calling the honor "the highlight of my career," according to the HBCU Gameday website.
The new year began tragically with the suspected drug overdose death on Jan. 1 of Nick Gordon, who was most famous for his relationship with Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown. He was only 30.
Scroll down to learn more about some of the other notable Black folks who have died this year.
Notable Deaths 2019Notable Deaths 2018Notable Deaths 2017