A dancer and actor, Barbara Ann Teer quickly landed roles in 1960s Broadway shows like Kwamina and Where's Daddy? after she arrived in New York City. But she yearned for parts that would celebrate her heritage instead of further perpetuating stereotypes. So in 1968, Teer founded the National Black Theatre in Harlem, where she became a staunch advocate for African and African-American artists. Under Teer's stewardship, the institution evolved into a cornerstone of black culture. She was 71.
He was known as the "Little Giant" because of his diminutive stature, but Johnny Griffin was a musical talent of towering proportions. The Chicago-born tenor saxophonist made his name in the 1950s, collaborating with luminaries like John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey. Dismayed by the ascendancy of free jazz (a genre he considered "noise") in the 1960s, Griffin fled to Europe, where he mesmerized audiences for decades. "I want to eat up the music like a child eating candy," he said. In turn, listeners devoured his unique sound, a melding of forceful tones and dazzling improvisation played at lightning speeds that earned him recognition as the "world's fastest saxophonist." Griffin was 80.
On April 18, 1945, with the Third Reich on the verge of collapse, Army Lieutenant Michael Daly was leading his company through Nuremberg, Germany, when it encountered machine-gun fire. Shielding his men, Daly crept forward alone and single-handedly vanquished 15 German troops in four separate firefights. For these acts of heroism, Daly was awarded the Medal of Honor, the military's highest decoration. Daly also earned three Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star during his service. He was 83.