Aretha Franklin among a growing list of deceased icons from Oprah’s Legend’s Ball in 2005

(Photo credit

Crusader staff report

Remember Oprah Winfrey’s splashy Legends Ball in 2005, where she serenaded and splurged on many of America’s Black female achievers?

It was a grand affair where Oprah vowed to honor Black female icons while their still alive rather than when their gone. Black women across the country are making history in politics, business, entertainment and media. But the Legends Ball recognized the achievements of women of color who were ahead of their time as they paved the way for future generations of successful women.

Sixteen years later, a chunk of Oprah’s esteemed guest list have died, the latest being the indisputable Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who succumb to cancer on Thursday, August 16.

These are the other Black icons and guests of Oprah’s Legends Ball who have left us.

Maya Angelou – Poet laureate, Author, Civil Rights Activist

Elizabeth Catlett

Elizabeth Catlett – Sculptor and Graphic Artist

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee – Actress and Civil Rights Activist

Katherine Dunham

Katherine Dunham – Dancer, Choreographer

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin – Singer, Civil Rights Activist

Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height – Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Activist

Lena Horne

Lena Horne – Singer, Dancer, Actress, Activist

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King – Activist, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist

Della Reese

Della Reese – Singer, Actress, Minister

Naomi Sims

Naomi Sims – Model, Businesswoman, Author

Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole – Singer

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  1. Yes, she was chosen and of course at the top of the list, but she DID NOT attend. She was noticeably absent and missed. Another noticeable absence was Whitney Houston. As great as the impromptu singing initiated by Bebe Winans was, I cannot imagine what the Sunday “sing-along” would have been like with the Queen and The Voice.


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