Mental Health, News, Obituaries


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Alex Poinsett, former Ebony senior editor and author, dies

Alex Poinsett, one of the co-founders of the National Association of Black Journalists, an award-winning author and a retired senior editor at Ebony magazine, has died. Mr. Poinsett was 89, but it is not known where or when he died. His last known address was in Chicago.

Mr. Poinsett’s daughter, P. Mimi Poinsett, said her father died from Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, characterized by the gradual loss of memory and critical thinking.

Alex Poinsett, journalist and award-winning author, has died
Alex Poinsett, journalist and award-winning author, has died

African Americans are at higher risk than whites when it comes to suffering from the disease because many blacks assume that memory loss is a normal sign of aging and do not seek medical help, according to Alzheimer’s Disease 2014 Facts and Figures.

Mr. Poinsett was the author of Black Power Gary Style: The Making of Mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher, and Walking with Presidents: Louis Martin and the Rise of Black Political Power. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies sponsored Walking with Presidents. For his writing and reporting efforts, Mr. Poinsett won the University of Michigan’s Book Award.

Cover of Alex Poinsett's award-winning book.
Cover of Alex Poinsett’s award-winning book.

He earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois.

Mr. Poinsett spent 26 years at Chicago-based Ebony, where he was senior editor. His death follows that of Hans J. Massaquoi, Jr., former managing editor of Ebony, who wrote Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany. He died in 2013.

In 1981, Poinsett left Ebony and Johnson Publishing Co. to serve as manager of communications for Johnson Products Co. He managed corporate communications for JPC, a black hair-care firm also based in Chicago. In 1971, JPC became the first black-owned publicly traded company. Its shares were sold on the American Stock Exchange.

Johnson Products Company was founded by George Johnson and Ebony was founded John H. Johnson. The men were not related but they were both black businessmen who built empires.

The National Association of Black Journalists was founded on Dec. 12, 1975, in Washington, D.C., by 44 African-American journalists. Paul Brock, one of the co-founders, talked about Poinsett.

“We argued over the things NABJ should be and shouldn’t be,” Brock said.

Sarah Glover, president of NABJ, said “Alex Poinsett was a talented journalist who effortlessly told stories which gave an honest account of the black experience. His work at Ebony magazine provided depth and perspective to the coverage of black America.”

In addition to P. Mimi Poinsett, he is survived by a son, Pierre, two grandsons, two great grandchildren. A memorial service will be scheduled sometime this spring.


Samuel Sarpong Jr., actor, model for the Nelson Mandela clothing line, dies

Samuel Sarpong Jr., former co-host of MTV’s “Yo Momma,” a model for Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabana, Versace and the face of Nelson Mandela Foundation’s clothing line, recently took his own life by jumping off a Pasadena, Calif., bridge into the Arroyo Seco or Salinas River, despite pleas from his family not to do it.

It is not known whether the 40-year-old Sarpong left a note explaining why he decided to take his own life. He died Oct. 27. The Pasadena Fire Department pronounced him dead at 3:52p.m.

Sarpong’s family released a statement that read: “It is with great sadness that the family of Samuel ‘Sam’ Sarpong Jr. must share the news that Sam has passed away. The circumstances surrounding his death are currently under investigation and no additional details are known at this time. The family appreciates the thoughts, prayers and other expressions of sympathy, and request their privacy be respected at this extremely difficult time.”

  Actor, model, spokesman Sam Sarpong recently took his own life.
Actor, model, spokesman Sam Sarpong recently took his own life.

His family spent seven hours pleading with him not to jump, according to police.

Sarpong was born in London and when he was 11, he moved with his father to Los Angeles.

He graduated from El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, Calif. His father, Sam Sarpong Sr., was a native of Ghana. After Sam Sarong Jr.’s career as a professional basketball player failed to materialize, he turned to acting and modeling with great success.

He had 76 television and motion picture acting credits to his name. He co-hosted “Yo Momma” and he hosted the BET Awards pre-show. Sarpong modeled for the Nelson Mandela Foundation clothing line, titled “46664,” Mr. Mandela’s number in South Africa’s Robben Island Prison.

Sarong had roles in a number of films, including Carmen The Hip Hopera, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Keeping Up with the Steins, Anchor Baby and No Weapons, for which he won best lead actor at the San Diego Film Festival.


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  1. My father’s obituary:

    Alex Poinsett died peacefully Friday, October 23, 2015 at Seasons Hospice in Chicago, IL. He succumbed to declining health stemming from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 89 years old. Mr. Poinsett was born in Chicago on January 27, 1926 to Alexander A. Poinsett and Adele L. Poinsett (née Prindle). He was the third oldest in a family of six and the only boy. He grew up in the Woodlawn community and attended McCosh elementary school and Englewood High School.

    Best known for his many articles as Senior Editor for Ebony magazine, Mr. Poinsett covered a wide variety of topics including Civil Rights, religion, education, politics and sports. The author of five books, he received critical acclaim for the book “Walking with Presidents: Louis Martin and the Rise of Black Political Power.” During World War II, Mr. Poinsett honorably served in the Navy and was stationed on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. After the war he enrolled at the University of Illinois (Champaign) and received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Philosophy. He also became of member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, Tau chapter.

    In 1953, Mr. Poinsett married Norma R. Poinsett (née Miller) and eventually put down permanent stakes in the Chatham community of Chicago. They raised their two children and maintained a household for 51 years of marriage.

    After graduating from college, Mr. Poinsett landed a job at Johnson Publishing Company (JPC). For the first seven years he was a staff writer for Jet magazine, followed by 26 years as a writer and Senior Editor for Ebony magazine. During his tenure at JPC, Mr. Poinsett was an in-demand public speaker at colleges and university across the United States and completed extensive national and international travel in pursuit of stories impacting African Americans. His excursions included trips to the White House, the Kremlin, several countries in Africa, Europe and South America. Mr. Poinsett is one of the 44 founding members of the National Association of Black Journalists.

    An avid tennis player, Mr. Poinsett was a lifetime member of the Chicago Prairie Tennis Club and the American Tennis Association and played in club tournaments across the country. He also enjoyed chess, bridge and playing pool. He could often be heard whistling a tune by the likes of Beethoven or Coltrane. In 1957 Mr. Poinsett became a member of the Unitarian-Universalist Association and made his home church the First Unitarian Church of Chicago. During the next 40 plus years he was active in many church causes on both a local and national level.

    Mr. Poinsett is survived by his sister Sadi White, daughter Dr. Mimi Poinsett and grandson Joshua Poinsett, son A. Pierre Poinsett, Sr. and wife Linda, grandson Alexis Poinsett, Jr., great-granddaughter Alexandria Poinsett, great-grandson Alexis Poinsett, III, nieces Pradhana White and Alexandria Banks, and nephews Michael White and Lewellyn Brown.

  2. Thank you. I was sad to read about your father who did some very great things. You did not mention, however, that he worked for Johnson Products Co., which is different from Johnson Publishing Company. The obituary from the NABJ left out a lot of very important details about his life.—-Frederick H. Lowe

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