Day of the Dead 2022

In October, I’ve set out tombstones to honor the great men and women who passed every year (since 2004); the revolutionaries, the trailbreakers, those luminaries who changed the world. From lists of thousands, I choose a few exemplary souls. Courage, selflessness, fighting for freedom, equality and justice are qualities I admire. Emiliano Zapata gets a tombstone every year.

List of the Dead 2022

Nichelle Nichols and Sidney Poitier Photo: R. Cuningham

Nichelle Nichols

Nichols was an actor and activist. She is best known for her groundbreaking role as Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek. Nichols spent her later years as a NASA recruiter, with a focus on bringing more people of color into science.

Sidney Poitier
Poitier was an actor, director, and activist. A few of his most famous films are; Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, To Sir, With Love, Raisin in the Sun and Lilies of the Field (Best Actor Oscar). He was the first African American to win the Oscar for Best Actor (1964). He was awarded the Presidential medal of honor in 2009 for his work as a trailblazer and activist.

Norman Mineta and Madeleine Albright

Norman Mineta
As the son of Japanese immigrants, his whole family was interned during WWII. As an adult, Mineta was the Mayor of San José, California. He was the first Asian American presidential cabinet member
(grounded all planes on 9/11 as head of Department of Transportation)

Madeleine Albright
Albright and her family were Jewish refugees from Nazi Czechoslovakia. She was US Ambassador to the UN. In her prominent roles, she fought to eliminate nuclear weapons. Albright was the first female US Secretary of State.

Olivia Newton John and Lata Mangeshkar Photo: R. Cuningham

Olivia Newton John
Newton John was a singer and actor. Her incredible soprano shone in films like “Grease” and “Xanadu”. She was a personal favorite of mine growing up. My sister, our neighbor and I went to our local cinema to see Grease in 1979 and liked it so much we watched it twice in a row.

Lata Mangeshkar
Mangeshkar was called the Bollywood Nightingale. Her outstanding career lasted for 60 years. In that time she performed in 2,000 movie soundtracks. In her decades of recording she sang 25,000 songs in 20 Indian languages. Mangeshkar may be the most recorded artist in history. She was awarded the prestigious Padma Vibhushan prize in 1999.

Coolio Tombstone Photo: R. Cuningham

Artis Leon Ivey Jr. was a rapper. Coolio was a joke nickname. His friends would call him Coolio Iglesias (comparing him to Julio Iglesias). Coolio recorded music from 1991 to 2019. He recorded songs for several movies. “Gangsta’s Paradise” was one of his most famous. It sampled from Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise. His “Gangsta’s Paradise” was the theme song for the movie “Dangerous Minds.”

Rosario Ibarra de Piedra and Hanef Bhamjee Photo: R. Cuningham

Rosario Ibarra de Piedra
(1927 – 2022)
Ibarra de Piedra was a Mexican human rights activist. In 1975, her son Jesús disappeared. He was one of many missing. She founded the Comité Eureka to find the disappeared and was its president. Ibarra de Piedra was the first Mexican female presidential candidate in 1982. Due to her human rights work, she was a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize for several years.

Hanef Bhamjee
Bhamjee was a South African anti-apartheid activist. He was born in South Africa, but because of his protests against apartheid he had to move to Wales in the 1980s for his own safety. Bhamjee continued his protests in exile from Wales.

Carlos Garduño Nuñez Photo: R. Cuningham

Carlos Garduño Núñez
Garduño Nuñez was a decorated Mexican WWII Pilot. In 1945, he was Colonel of the Air Force 201 Squadron
that helped liberate the Philippines. Garduño Nuñez was the last living member of the squadron.

Emiliano Zapata Photo: R. Cuningham

Emiliano Zapata Salazar

Emiliano Zapata c. 1911 Photo: Public Domain

Zapata was a Mexican Revolutionary. His rallying cry was “Tierra y Libertad” (Land and Liberty). He fought in the Mexican Revolution for agrarian land reform. The modern guerillas called the Zapatistas follow in his footsteps.

Please share one the names of one or two passings that affected you deeply this year.

¡Olé! –Rebecca

Rebecca Cuningham

40 thoughts on “Day of the Dead 2022

  1. What a brilliant idea. But it’s always a bit of a bringing-me-up-short moment when someone I’ve always regarded as a contemporary of mine – though actually she was a year younger – Olivia Newton-John, dies. Some great names, and great losses in this list. But well done indeed for honouring them in this way.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think we have too many unknown heroes who go without recognition so it warms my heart when people go out of their way to honor their memory.
        And my comments are happy to be appreciated. 😋

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A very sweet post!!
    It’s a good initiative.
    Lata Mangeshkar or popularly called as lata didi(elder sister) is loved by all.
    She’s my mother’s favourite singer.
    I also enjoyed her songs.
    Pick any song, in whatever language it is, you’ll be mesmerized.
    Few of her songs always makes me cry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rebecca. I enjoyed talking about the gravestones with the adults shepherding their children at Halloween. A dozen people close to us have come down with Covid in the last month, so we’re not hosting our party this year.


  3. I love that you do this, Rebecca. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if kids did something like this in honor of special people? I’m not suggesting they give up sweets or costumes, but to to this as well. What you have done adds so much more meaning to the holiday.
    Thank you again,

    Liked by 1 person

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