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Honoring Black Women Celebrities Who Succumbed to Breast Cancer


To honor Black women celebrities who died from breast cancer, here are short biographies of their lives. Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.

Diahann Carroll (Pictured Above)

July 17, 1935 – October 4, 2019

Diahann Carroll was an American actress, singer, model, and activist and appeared in many prominent productions which include Carmen Jones, Porgy and Bess, and No Strings. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 and underwent nine weeks of radiation therapy and had been clear for years after the diagnosis. Unfortunately she lost her battle on October 4, 2019, in Los Angeles, at age 84.

*Photo courtesy of

Alaina Reed-Hall

November 10, 1946 – December 17, 2009

Alaina Reed-Hall was an American actress and singer best known for her roles as Olivia Robinson, Gordon’s younger sister, on the PBS children’s television series Sesame Street, and as Rose Lee Holloway on the NBC sitcom 227. She died from Breast Cancer On December 17, 2009, in Santa Monica, California at the age of 63.

*Photo Courtesy of Muppet Fandom

Syreeta Wright

August 3, 1946 – July 6, 2004

Syreeta Wright was a recording professional and American singer-songwriter, best known for her music during the early 1970s through the early 1980s. Most notably are her songs in collaboration with her ex-husband Stevie Wonder and musical artist Billy Preston. She died in 2004 from congestive heart failure, a a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatments she was receiving for breast and bone cancer.

*Photo Courtesy of

Nina Simone

February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003

Nina Simone was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. She died peacefully in her sleep on April 21, 2003 after suffering from breast cancer.

*Photo Courtesy of Rolling Stone

Minnie Ripperton

November 8, 1947 – July 12, 1979

Minnie Ripperton was an American singer-songwriter best known for her 1975 single “Lovin’ You” and her four octave D3 to F#7 coloratura soprano range. In January 1976, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in April, she underwent a radical mastectomy. By the time of diagnosis, the cancer had metastasized and she was given about six months to live. She was one of the first celebrities to go public with a breast cancer diagnosis, but she did not disclose that she was terminally ill. In 1977, she became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society and in 1978, she received the American Cancer Society’s Courage Award, which was presented to her at the White House by President Jimmy Carter. Ripperton died of breast cancer on July 12, 1979, at the age of 31.

*Photo Courtesy of Blackpast

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