Rest In Power: Notable Black People Who Have Died This Year

Rest In Power: Notable Black People Who Have Died This Year

Josephine Wright. | Source: GoFundMe/Charise Graves

While death is an inevitable part of life, that fact doesn’t make it any easier when the news of death is reported.

Josephine Wright, an elderly Black woman who famously sued a real estate developer she accused of attempting to harass her into selling her property in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina—a property she says has been in her family since just after the Civil War—died on Jan. 7. She was 94.

Saddened to hear of the passing of Josephine Wright. She was a fighter. A hero. Even at less than 5 feet, I looked up to her. She means so much to so many. May you rest in power Ms. Josephine!

— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) January 8, 2024

Wright’s story gained national attention after wealthy celebrities including media mogul Tyler Perry rallied behind her and funded her efforts to secure her family’s property.

Wright, who died with at least 40 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and 16 great-great-grandchildren, had said the lawsuit was motivated by wanting to enjoy her family’s land.

“It’s a classic story,” civil rights attorney Bakari Sellers, who represented Wright, told reporters last year. “You have a 93-year-old young lady who has been working her entire life to provide for her family her entire life. And you have this great big large development company. And look, nobody up here is against development per se. Nobody up here is anti-business. I mean, we just want to keep what’s ours and we want to be able to pass that down.”

Wright, who comes from a family of enslaved people who escaped and were freed by Union soldiers, had been previously sued by the developer because she refused to sell the company her land so it could build a 29-acre, 147-unit housing development. But court documents indicate that she was sued because she stalled progress on the development by leaving her personal property on property owned by the developer. One of Wright’s grandchildren said they paid to remove the personal items but that didn’t end the harassment.

Wright’s funeral was held this past weekend in Hilton Head Island, according to WTOC.

“The legacy of being self-sufficient, the legacy of being stylish, the legacy of being a mighty woman of God, the legacy of standing up and fighting for her family and fighting for our land,” Wright’s granddaughter, Tracey Graves, said during the funeral. “She started this fight knowing that she may not see it through, but she had to do it.”

May her legacy in the world of Black beauty care and fashion in general live on forever.

MORE: Rest In Power: Notable Black People Who Died In 2023

Keep reading below to learn more about the other notable Black people who have died this year, in no particular order.

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