NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — New Orleans radio broadcaster and host of the nationally-syndicated show Get Down George Vinnett has died, his family announced on Wednesday.

According to a statement, Vinnett died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Tulsa, Okla. last week. He was 79.

Throughout his life, Vinnett was a prominent figure in the fight for civil rights in both the United States and his home state of Louisiana. In 1966, Vinnett was hired on at Monsanto Chemical Company where he became the first Black employee.

More than two decades later, he continued to shatter barriers when he was named the first Black National Press Secretary for a presidential candidate, Pat Robertson, in the 1980s.

However, Vinnett is perhaps best known for his work as a radio DJ for New Orleans radio stations WBOK and WYLD. His show Get Down was broadcasted in 35 U.S. cities and featured the soulful sounds of R&B superstars like Ray Charles, BB King, and Michael Jackson. His voice was also featured in commercials for Popeyes among other companies.

Family members say Vinnett made friends everywhere he went, but he especially cherished his close relationships with musicians Allen Toussaint, King Floyd, and Lloyd Price.

Funeral services for Vinnett are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday, January 20th at Greater Union Baptist Church in Tulsa. For those who can’t make it to the service, the event will be live-streamed on the church’s Facebook page.

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