Duluth activist and musician Diona Johnson passes away at 35

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The community of Duluth is mourning the loss of Diona Johnson, the social justice activist and musician. She passed away at the age of 35.

She is known around the the community for her popular band Afrogeode and the Gemstones. Her bandmates made the statement on social media saying, “Today is an unbelievably hard day. Di Jay was one of those once in a lifetime people gleaming, realness ,and love with every movement and moment she was in. The world once again lost a great one.”

Just a year ago WDIO did a story about Diona and her work. She told us that she loved the community and the work that she did, “My chosen family, my relationships, you know, my jobs at different times of the day or different times. Yeah. And I think my music and definitely the lake.”

She strived to build a better community through music and advocacy.

The Duluth branch of the NAACP released the following statement:

“We all know those people whose presence lights up a room and invigorates everyone in it; those people who exude joy, strength, and beauty in everything they say, in everything they do; those people whose creative expression is poignant and captivating. Diona Johnson was one of those people.
“This week, the Duluth community, Minnesota, and the world lost a beautiful and powerful voice. Di was a fierce advocate for social justice, supporting the Duluth NAACP and BIPOC communities throughout the region with her words, her professional work, her music, and her advocacy. Her band, Afrogeode and the Gemstones moved audiences with their soulful, funky, and genre-blending sound and always compelled people to consider what they can do to promote justice in their own communities.
“There truly aren’t words to express the sadness we feel amidst Di’s passing, nor the impact this loss has on our community. Di was one of a kind and she is immensely missed. We ask everyone to support the people around you who are directly impacted by her passing, and do what you can to continue uplifting black voices in our community. Di may be gone but her bright, passionate, and beautiful spirit lives on.