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Influential African American Women Who Died in The Last Decade

Notable Black Women of the Decade - Deaths 2000 - 2009


This list is not intended to be all-inclusive, but focuses on some of the more prominent Africa American women who made contributions in the business world or open doorways for other Black woman.

  • Althea Gibson (age 76) died on September 28, 2003. In 1957, Gibson was the first Black professional tennis player to play in and win Wimbledon and the United States national tennis championship. She won both tournaments again in 1958.
  • Shirley Chisholm (age 80) died on January 1, 2005. Chisholm was the first Black woman in the House and to seek a major party presidential nomination.
  • Coretta Scott King (age 78) died from a stroke and heart attack on January 31, 2006. King fought valiantly for racial equality. Her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., was murdered in 1968.
  • Katherine Dunham (age 96) died on May 21, 2006. Famous as a dancer and choreography, according to BlackRefer.com, "She once pressed a cultural crusade that some credited with putting gang leaders in leotards."
  • Juanita Millender-McDonald (age 68) died from cancer on April 22, 2007. Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, a Democrat whose House district encompassed Compton, Carson, much of Long Beach and parts of South Los Angeles.
  • Yolanda Denise King (age 51) died from a suspected heart problem on May 15, 2007. The daughter of civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Zola Taylor (age 69) died on April 30, 2007. Zola Taylor, who broke gender barriers as the first female member of the 1950s R&B group The Platters.
  • Eartha Kitt (age 81) died from colon cancer on December 25, 2008. An outspoken actress, singer, and dancer, Kitt was internationally recognized for her accomplishments.
  • Naomi Sims (age 61) died from breast cancer on August 1, 2009. After appearing in a magazine in 1968 she quickly became an icon of the "Black is Beautiful" movement.
  • Margaret Bush Wilson, a civil rights lawyer and the first Black woman to run for congress (in 1948) passed away on August 11, 2009. Wilson was the first African American woman to head the national NAACP board of directors.


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