Cardiss Collins, 81, former U.S. Congresswoman from Illinois and a pioneer for women in elected office. She retired from the U.S. House in 1995 after more than 20 years in office.
Ray Easley, 55, community activist and member of the Westside Branch NAACP. Easley served as human resources director for the Village of Maywood, and chaired the Board of Directors for Circle Family Health Care Network.
Nelson Mandela, 95, South African leader, humanitarian and Noble Peace Prize winner.
LeRoy Martin, 84, former Chicago police officer and superintendent. Martin became the city’s second black superintendent after his appointment by Mayor Harold Washington in 1987.
Roger Ebert, 70, world-renowned film critic, author and Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism.
Bettye Jakes-Russ, 87, mother of Emma Mitts, 37th Ward alderman for the Austin community.
Cleotha Staples, 78, eldest sister and singer with Chicago’s own The Staple Singers. The group included sisters Cleotha, Mavis and Yvonne, as well as brother Pervis early in the group’s career.
Pastor William H. Gray, III, 71, political and civic activist, who served Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District from 1979 to 1991. After leaving Congress, Gray was CEO of The United Negro College Fund, serving till 2004. He was also pastor of Philadelphia’s Bright Hope Baptist Church
Dr. Barbara S. Penelton, 75, Chicago native and retired educator. Penelton was the first black female faculty member at Bradley University in 1969. A former Chicago schoolteacher, Penelton retired from BU in 1995 as a professor in education. Her cousin is Pfc. Milton Lee Olive, III, who gave his life to save his four fellow servicemen while in Vietnam. Olive, 18, spotted a live grenade during a 1965 search mission and smothered it underneath him as it exploded.
Dianne Jones, Chicago teacher and civil rights leader who helped organize two Chicago-area chapters of the NAACP. She also led the effort to desegregate Chicago’s Rainbow Beach. The New York native moved to Chicago in 1949. Jones, 85, actually died on Dec. 31, 2012 but she should be noted among those for 2013.
Jim Kelly, 67, African-American actor and martial artists who starred with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (1973). Kelly’s other film appearances include Black Belt Jones (1974) and Three the Hard Way (1974). Kelly was the film industry’s first black martial artist movie star.
Ashley Hardom, 19, who was shot in July 2013 in Austin while standing with friends in front of a home just a few blacks from where she lived. She was struck in the back of the head after a group of shooters descended on the home.
Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot and killed on the South Side just days after attending President Obama’s Jan. 20, 2013 inauguration. Pendleton participated in the inaugural parade with her marching band classmates from King College Prep. She was shot by a lone shooter while hanging out with friends in a park.
Bobby “Blue” Bland, 83, blues singer who often teamed with good friend B.B. King. Their chart toppers included Let The Good Times Roll. Bland recorded hits from the mid-1950s through the ’70s.