Each week, there is an overflow of news that happens in every corner of the nation which is of interest to people living across the African Diaspora. But quite often these stories are not known beyond a small geographic area. Telling these stories is the goal of Year in Review. We offer an informative snapshot of those news stories each week for the world to read. This special edition is a compliation of various news organizations news reported by state in 2021. ABA is compiled/written by Carol Ozemhoya.

Alabama

Feb. 15

Couple owns Black-owned RV resort near NASCAR site

Nathan and Alicia Lawson, the African-American couple that owns Time Away RV Resort, have set up an area to be the first recreational RV resort within walking distance of the NASCAR Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Ala., reports BlackNews.com. 

April 14 

Family of gay teen who was bullied files lawsuit

The family of an openly gay Huntsville City School student who took his own life in 2019, has announced plans to sue the school system for civil rights violations and wrongful death, according to a news release Monday, reports AL.com.

Shelby was 14 when he died on April 18, 2019. His family said that Shelby took his own life as a result of depression and being bullied because of his sexual orientation.

May 6 

Greyhound bus from Freedom 

Rides restored for 60th anniversary

A restored vintage Greyhound bus was unveiled to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, reports NBC News.

The bus, which was in service during the Freedom Rides — a series of political protests against racial segregation in 1961 — was unveiled at the Alabama Historical Commission’s Freedom Rides Museum in downtown Montgomery. The date of the unveiling coincides with the day the first Freedom Riders left Washington, D.C., bound for New Orleans to protest segregated interstate transportation terminals.

“As we celebrate the arrival of the restored Greyhound Bus and its symbolic representation of the courage of the Freedom Riders, we also commemorate the 60th anniversary of the rides and their impact on equal rights for all Americans,” said Alabama Historical Commission Chairman Eddie Griffith.

The Freedom Riders, who included Black and White civil rights activists, participated in the bus trips throughout the Jim Crow South. Organized by the Congress of Racial Equality, the purpose of the rides was to pressure the U.S. government to enforce the 1960 Supreme Court ruling in Boynton v. Virginia, which made it unconstitutional to segregate interstate transportation facilities, including bus terminals.

Thirteen riders, including John Lewis, the civil rights icon who went on to become a congressman from Georgia, left the nation’s capital May 4 to reach New Orleans. However White mobs attacked the riders at bus stations.

July 22

Alabama lawmaker uses N-word, asked to resign

An Alabama lawmaker is facing calls to resign after using a racist slur during a council meeting Monday night, reports NBC News.

Video of the meeting posted to the Tarrant, Ala., Facebook page shows City Council member John “Tommy” Bryant standing up, pointing at a Black councilwoman and asking: “Do we have a house n*gg* in here? Would she please stand up?”

Residents can be heard gasping.

In a statement after the meeting, Alabama Democrats called for Bryant to resign.

“He is racist and unfit to serve,” the statement said.

Sept. 14 

Suit filed over Confederate statue in mostly Black Tuskegee

A lawsuit has been filed that could decide the fate of a Confederate monument that has stood in a square at the center of nearly all-Black Tuskegee for 115 years, reports the Washington Post.

WSFA-TV reported that the Macon County Commission has filed suit against both the local and state chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy arguing that the county owns the property where the statue is located and wants title to the plot.

While records show the county gave the land to the Confederate heritage group for use as a park for White people in 1906, the suit contends the property belongs to the county because the county’s action was illegal.

Sept. 23

Selma courthouse annex named for civil rights figures

The courthouse annex in Dallas County now bears the name of two prominent African-American attorneys and civil rights figures from the community — J.L. Chestnut and Bruce Boynton – reports the Associated Press.

Chestnut was a prominent civil rights attorney. A Selma native who got his law degree at Howard University, Chestnut returned to his hometown in 1958 and became a key legal figure in the civil rights battles in Selma. His work included helping activists who arrived in Selma in response to the “Bloody Sunday” beatings that eventually led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Boynton was a civil rights pioneer and attorney who inspired the landmark “Freedom Rides” of 1961. He was arrested 60 years ago for entering the White part of a racially segregated bus station in Virginia and launching a chain reaction that ultimately helped to bring about the abolition of Jim Crow laws in the South.

Oct. 6

Bubba Wallace becomes second Black driver to win top NASCAR event

Bubba Wallace became just the second Black driver to win at NASCAR’s top Cup Series level when rain stopped Monday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway, reports the Associated Press.

Wallace had driven through a crash and to the front of the field five laps before the second rain stoppage of the race. NASCAR tried to dry the track for nearly 45 minutes, but called things off as sunset approached and the rain showed no sign of ceasing.

Wallace had been waiting atop his pit stand and celebrated wildly with his crew when the race was called. Wallace is in his first season driving for 23X1 Racing, a team owned by both Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.

Oct. 20 

Alabama seeks to purge racist sections of its constitution

The Alabama Constitution still has language stating that schools should be segregated by race and people are to pay poll taxes to vote, reports the Associated Press.

While those provisions have long been invalidated by court rulings, they remain in the state’s chief governing document.

One hundred and twenty years after the state’s 1901 constitution was approved, activists and lawmakers hope they can soon excise the racist language written to entrench White supremacy. The Committee on the Recompilation of the Constitution this week heard recommendations to strip language on segregated schools, poll taxes and language that allowed a brutal convict lease system that sold African-American men into forced labor.

The panel is expected to take a final vote in the coming weeks, putting the proposal before lawmakers in early 2022 and potentially state voters in November of 2022.

Nov. 2

Bid considered to wipe arrest records of MLK, Rosa Parks in Alabama

The quest by a civil rights pioneer to have her arrest record wiped clean nearly 70 years after she protested racial segregation has raised the possibility of similar bids to clear the names of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., whose convictions remain on the books in Alabama’s capital, reports the Associated Press.

Parks, a Black seamstress and activist who was convicted of violating racial segregation laws after refusing to give up her bus seat to a White man in 1955, was convicted of violating racial segregation laws. King, who helped lead the resulting Montgomery Bus Boycott, paid a $500 fine after being convicted in 1956 of violating a law banning boycotts.

Parks refused to pay her $10 fine, and she and King went on to become icons of racial justice and the modern civil rights movement. Yet their cases remain on the books in Montgomery, said civil rights attorney Fred Gray, who represented both.

Arizona

Jan. 25

Legend Sidney Poitier gets film school in his name

In 1963, Sidney Poitier made a film in Arizona, “Lilies of the Field.” The performance led to a huge milestone: He became the first Black winner of a lead-acting Oscar.

Now, Arizona is the site of another career milestone for the legendary actor and filmmaker — Arizona State University has named its new film school after him, reports the Associated Press. The Sidney Poitier New American Film School was unveiled at a virtual ceremony recently.

Aug. 24 

Some states willing to take Afghan refugees

Arizona and California are just two of the several states that have expressed interest in taking refugees from Afghanistan, reports Huffington Post

Since Aug. 14, the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of about 48,000 people from Afghanistan, the White House said. That number continues to increase as Biden expands the perimeter around Kabul’s airport, which is serving as a hold for evacuating people.

As the evacuations continue to increase and fleeing Afghans begin to arrive in the U.S., a growing number of states, led by Democrats and Republicans alike, have announced their intent to do their part by taking in as many refugees as possible. 

In addition to California and Arizona, other states opening their borders include Arkansas, Colorado, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Arkansas

March 29

Harriet Tubman sculpture goes up in Little Rock 

The City of Little Rock unveiled a Harriet Tubman sculpture in front of City Hall Feb. 24, reports Amp News. The mayor of Little Rock, Frank Scott Jr opened the ceremony by detailing the importance of this commemoration taking place during this month. 

“On this day, the twenty-fourth day of February, we all know we are in Black History Month. We all know that Black history is American history. One of the iconic, critical, everlasting figures in Black history, American history, is the woman by the name of Harriet Tubman.” 

Tubman was born into slavery but escaped, and in turn, she led hundreds of family members and other slaves to freedom. Known as one of the most famous “conductors” of the Underground Railroad, Tubman went on to be an influential abolitionist and a spy for the Union during the Civil War.

“She fought to get a pension because she was a spy in the Civil War, but she was not able to get her pension until her husband died,” Scott said. “She never stopped pursuing freedom.”

California

Feb. 15

Mural to honor women of Black Panther movement

Jilchristina Vest recently commissioned Oakland muralist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith to paint a piece on the side of her home dedicated to the unsung women of the Black Panther Party, and her dream has come to fruition, reports Mercury News.

“Rachel is a phenom. She is next level. She is a gift. I could not have completed this journey, this project, without her. She is the person who was meant to bring my vision to life,” Vest said.

Vest bought her 1886 Victorian home on the corner of Center and Ninth streets in West Oakland 21 years ago, yards from the spot where Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton was shot and killed by Black Guerilla Family member Tyrone Robinson in 1989, and just a few blocks away from the Panther’s former headquarters at Peralta and 14th streets.

March 1

Black woman-owned business receive grants from Anastasia Beverly Hills

Haute cosmetics company Anastasia Beverly Hills has announced that it will be granting nearly half a million dollars to eight Black, female-owned small businesses, reports Afro-Tech.

In a press release, it was revealed that the company made a $1 million commitment to the fight against institutional racism, oppression and injustice. This hefty $450,000 pledge “follows a combined donation of $550,000 to mental health and social initiatives that support marginalized communities, and five organizations at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

The companies, and the CEOs that will be the beneficiaries of the grant from Anastasia Beverly Hills are as follows:

• Akilah Releford of Mary Louise Cosmetics

• Christina Tegbe of 54 Thrones Beauty

• Shea Yeleen of Shea Yeleen Beauty

• Paula Brown of the Paula Brown Performing Arts Center

• Heritage Socks (best known for their collaboration with 

   Stacey Abrams to get the “Toes to the Polls”)

• North Carolina-based Anne’s Apothecary

• Jamaica, Queens, NY-based The Nourish Spot Juice Bar

March 3

Jazz legend Charlie Parker to receive star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

A Kansas City, Mo., legend, known for his influence in the Jazz scene will have his name forever cemented in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, reports KSHB.com.

The American Jazz Museum, located in the historic 18th and Vine District in Hollywood, announced that saxophonist Charlie Parker will soon receive a star on the Hollywood Walk.

March 4

ESA donates $1 million to support Black Girls CODE

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and its philanthropic arm, the ESA Foundation, announced a new initiative to benefit Black Girls CODE, which is based in Oakland, California.

According to Afro-Tech, the multi-year initiative will support educational and mentoring programs for girls and young women interested in technology. This initiative is also in line with Black Girls CODE’s mission to teach coding and technology skills to one million girls and young women by 2040.

March 19

11-year-old wins coding competition with video game

According to Black Business, St. Catherine, Jamaican native, Dominic Darby has won the XPRIZE Connect Code Games competition after creating his own video game for the first time.

The competition, sponsored by California-based, nonprofit, XPRIZE, was a partnership between the company and video game developer E-Line Media. Supported by Endless Network, the partnership is on a mission to improve lives through technology.

Darby was named “Best in Class,” and won a $1,000 cash prize in the Junior Division.

Currently, Darby attends Wolmer’s Preparatory School and has dreams of studying and working in computer science in the future.

April 1

Group wants to bring NFL football back to Oakland

The African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG) — which was founded with a primary purpose to create economic equity within the Black community through sports — is on a mission to become the first Black-owned ownership group in the NFL to bring professional football back to its city of Oakland, CA, reports Afro Tech.

According to the Undefeated, the group has put in a bid on the Oakland Coliseum site with a plan to get a professional football team back in its hometown and make history in the process.

The outlet reports that there are owners in the league that represent a total of 32 NFL teams — two are people of color and none are Black. AASEG is hoping to change that and create a historical moment that will break the existing color barrier inside the league, allowing Black people to have a piece of the pie, too.

April 6 

Federal lawsuit accuses officers of beating teen

The family of a Black teenager who said Stockton, Calif., police “viciously beat” him during a 2020 arrest filed a federal lawsuit against the city and four officers, reports NBC News.

The teen, Devin Carter, was left with bruises on both eyes as well as scratches on his face and back after he was arrested following a Dec. 30, 2020, traffic stop. Two officers, Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua, were fired over the incident.

The lawsuit says that Carter was driving to his father’s house when officers began following him in an attempt to pull him over for speeding. The teen was initially unaware that police were behind him, the suit states.

The lawsuit accuses officers of using a “pursuit intervention technique” to get Carter to stop, which caused another vehicle to swerve. The car was hit by a police vehicle, according to the suit, which states that Carter was unaware of the accident.

Former actor known as Urkel launches cannabis line

Actor Jaleel White, who played the role of Steve Urkel in the hit sitcom “Family Matters,” has officially ventured off into the cannabis strain known as Purple Urkel.

In a partnership with 710 Labs, Forbes reports that White’s new cannabis line features variants of the popular cannabis strain Purple Urkle set to launch on international stoner’s day, April 20.

While the brand will get started on dispensary shelves in California, it hopes to someday grow to more marketplaces in the near future.

“The thing that always stood out to me was there was no clear brand leader for fire purple weed,” said White in an interview with Forbes.

April 23 

Oakland Technical High  School first Black valedictorian accepted into 11 colleges

Oakland Technical High School was founded back in 1914. For the first time in the school’s 107-year-history, a young Black man has been named valedictorian, reports Afro Tech.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, 18-year-old high school senior Ahmed Muhammad will officially be named the top student of his class next month. Following that, he’ll be preparing to start his college career with 11 different acceptances to choose from, including Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Princeton and Columbia.

 “Dreams are powerful and dynamic, and by having a foundation of good habits, you’ll be able to achieve your wildest dreams even as they, and you, change,” he said.

April 27

Court dismisses claims against Michael Jackson estate

The Los Angeles Superior Court has ruled against Wade Robson in claims against corporations owned by Michael Jackson and/or the Estate of Michael Jackson and dismissed his case again, according to a statement from the Jackson estate’s publicist.

“Wade Robson has spent the last eight years pursuing frivolous claims in different lawsuits against Michael Jackson’s estate and companies associated with it. Robson has taken nearly three dozen depositions and inspected and presented hundreds of thousands of documents trying to prove his claims, yet a judge has once again ruled that Robson’s claims have no merit whatsoever, that no trial is necessary and that his latest case is dismissed,” said Jonathan Steinsapir, attorney for the estate of Michael Jackson.

Robson has claimed that Jackson molested him when he was a boy in the ‘90s.

May 6

San Francisco redirecting $3.75 million to Black business from law enforcement

San Francisco will redirect $3.75 million from the city’s police budget to organizations supporting Black businesses and entrepreneurs, reports the Huffington Post. 

In an announcement, Mayor London Breed said that the funding would go to more than a dozen local organizations and come out of the city’s Dream Keeper Initiative, which was announced last year and will reinvest $120 million from law enforcement budgets into San Francisco’s Black community. 

“Across this country, and in our city, we’ve seen how the Black community’s economic growth and prosperity has historically been disrupted and marginalized,” Breed said. “This funding is part [of] our efforts to undo the harm of generations of disinvestment and economic inequities.” 

May 17 

News anchor Gayle King announces $1 million scholarships from Viacom/CBS for HBCU students

On May 13, Gayle King — co-host of “CBS This Morning” — announced that Viacom/CBS will provide scholarships to future journalists in an effort to increase the representation of Black journalists in newsrooms across the country, according to a press release, reports Afro Tech.

The University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and Viacom/CBS have joined forces to make things happen for future Black journalists who want to further their education within the field.

The ViacomCBS HBCU Diversity in Journalism Scholarship will cover yearly tuition costs for graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to enroll in one of USC Annenberg’s journalism master’s programs.

Ayesha and Steph Curry partner with Goldman 

Sachs for One Million Black Women Initiative

Goldman Sachs has added the Currys as two new additional members to help it reach its ambitious goal.

Goldman Sachs announced a new initiative back in March that aimed to invest $10 billion in what they called the One Million Black Women (OMBW) initiative — a hefty effort that plans to support Black women over the next 10 years, reports Afro Tech.

The original 15-person Advisory Council has now grown to include NBA superstar Step Curry and his wife Ayesha to assist the company in its mission to end racial inequity.

June 2

California task force begins study of reparations

In a historic first, a new task force in California took a first step toward proposing reparations for Black residents in a bid to address the injustice of slavery and its lingering effects in everything from the criminal justice system to housing, reports the Mercury News.

The effort was created as part of a bill signed into law last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom and authored by then-lawmaker Shirley Weber, now California’s first Black secretary of state. It is the first time a state has formally undertaken a sweeping look at slavery and its impact on modern African- American life, in what advocates hope will become a roadmap for a national approach to reparations.

Aug. 9 

FBI selects first Black woman to join a bureau SWAT team

An FBI agent in Puerto Rico is believed to be the first Black woman to be selected to train for any of the bureau’s SWAT teams, reports CNN.

The newly chosen agent, who has only been identified as Tai, will be undergoing New Operator Training School (NOTS), a 10-week course that prepares selectees for SWAT field operations, the FBI said. If Tai passes NOTS, she will join the San Juan Division’s SWAT team as a probationary member. Within six to 18 months, she will undergo more training to become officially certified, according to the FBI.

Despite the pressure to successfully become the first Black woman on a SWAT team, Tai’s head remains focused on the first challenge: passing NOTS. The course is aimed at improving an agent’s firearm skills, body movement and critical thinking during stressful situations.

June 16

Dr. Dre, Jimmy Lovine looking to open high school in South Central L.A.

Dr. Dre and his longtime collaborator, Jimmy Lovine, have announced that they’ve teamed up yet again. But this time, their collaboration isn’t a musical one (well, not exactly, anyway), reports Afro Tech.

The rapper-turned-mogul and music industry veteran will be launching a new public school in South Los Angeles. The school, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022, will be focused on the entrepreneurial spirit that propelled both these men to success from the 1980s on.

“[I want to reach] the inner-city kid, the younger me,” Dr. Dre said to the L.A. Times. “Here’s a place that you can go where there’s something that you can learn that you’re really interested in.”

The Los Angeles County Board of Education approved the plans for the school, and Iovine was very specific about providing the prospective students an opportunity to work for some of the coolest companies in the world. What’s more, he said, because the school is reaching underserved communities in South Los Angeles — specifically, Black and Latinx communities — the students would be given opportunities usually reserved for their rich, White counterparts.

July 28 

2 arrested for allegedly defacing Black Lives Matter sign

Police in Northern California arrested two men over allegedly vandalizing a Black Lives Matter mural painted on a street in Santa Cruz, reports the Associated Press.

The men allegedly took turns performing burnouts with their vehicles along the mural on a downtown Santa Cruz street, defacing it with tire tread marks. The mural had recently been repainted in celebration of Juneteenth, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

Aug. 11

Shaq to sell his minority stake in NBA team

Shaquille O’Neal may be giving up his NBA team ownership now but he’s gaining something else in return with his new endorsement deal, reports Afro Tech in conjunction with Clutch Points. 

The former NBA star has inked a new deal to become a brand for premier mobile sports betting app WynnBET that will make him the new face of the brand. 

As part of his new exclusive partnership, O’Neal is required to sell his minority stake in the Sacramento Kings — which equals out to roughly 2-4 percent of an NBA team that’s now valued at $1.9 billion (what’s interesting is that the team was reportedly valued at $534 million at the time he became partial owner). However, the idea of this new partnership is to help bolster WynnBET’s profile with the support of a major sports figure.

Aug. 19 

Black woman’s lawsuit accuses Northern CA Sheriffs of knocking her out during arrest

A woman who pulled off a road to change drivers during a trip with her father and three young children was knocked unconscious and arrested by two Northern California sheriff’s deputies, who then lied about the encounter to responding paramedics and on official reports, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, reports the Associated Press.

Body cameras worn by the deputies with the Solano County Sheriff’s Office recorded them pulling guns on Nakia Porter before slamming her to the pavement while handcuffing her along a rural road in the town of Dixon on the night of Aug. 6, 2020. Porter’s father, Joe Powell, was also placed in handcuffs and briefly detained.

Porter was jailed overnight on suspicion of resisting arrest, but never charged. She said the ordeal was confusing and dehumanizing.

“I was doing my best to do everything right, giving no reason to be treated like this,” said Porter, 33, who is Black.

The lawsuit brought by attorney Yasin Almadani accuses the deputies of violating state and federal civil rights statutes by engaging in “unlawful seizure, assault and excessive force.”

Aug. 25 

Cheerleaders greeted by racist taunts in Southern California

Cheerleaders from a Southern California high school were allegedly greeted with racist taunts by football fans of the other school, forcing the squad’s early departure, officials said, reports NBC BLK.

The ugly Friday night incident reportedly happened shortly after halftime of the Inland Empire contest between the visiting Valley View High School Eagles and the Temecula Valley High School Golden Bears.

The visiting Valley View cheerleaders, as custom, paid a visit to the home sideline at intermission to meet their Temecula counterparts and watch the halftime show together, Eagles cheerleading coach Kenya Williams told NBC News.

After the halftime show, the Valley View cheerleaders visited the snack stand and restrooms, available only on the stadium’s home side, and were allegedly greeted with hateful taunts.

Sept. 15

C-STEM receives $2.4 million grant to usher in young Black girls into engineering and robotics

Black girls have a passion for all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), reports Afro Tech. But the STEM field has been known to have limited spaces for women, specifically Black women. Now, one organization is making strides to change the narrative. 

The UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education, better known as C-STEM, has received an amazing gift to allow them to tap into the resources needed to introduce Black girls to engineering and robotics at a younger age. 

A $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation will now provide the organization with vital resources needed to equip participants with the skills that they need to excel in STEM throughout their communities, careers, and within their schools.

Oct. 1

Bruce’s Beach in California returned to 

Black family nearly a century after it was seized.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing ownership of a prime beachfront property to be transferred to heirs of a couple who built a resort for Black people in the early 1900s but were stripped of the land by local officials, reports ABC News. 

The legislation unanimously approved by state lawmakers in September was necessary to allow the start of the complex legal process of transferring ownership of what was once known as Bruce’s Beach in the city of Manhattan Beach and has been owned by Los Angeles County.

Oct. 6 

Former Black Tesla worker awarded millions in damages

Tesla Inc. subjected a Black former worker to a racially hostile work environment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent him from being racially harassed, a federal jury found reports the Wall Street Journal.

The eight-person jury awarded more than $130 million in damages to Owen Diaz, who worked as an elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., factory in 2015 and 2016.

Dec. 3

Keisha Nix becomes first Black woman VP in Lakers organization

An unprecedented leap of faith would lead Kiesha Nix to achieve history with the Lakers, serving as the first Black woman to become a vice president within the Los Angeles Lakers organization, Sports Illustrated/afro Tech reports.

During Nix’s career spanning nearly 30 years, her heart of philanthropy has remained at the forefront of her professional objectives. Before landing the historic position, she initially worked as a project manager at Merrill Lynch, but a company merge would lead Nix to manage contracts under Bank of America. Thriving in her role as a managing investor, Nix landed high net worth clients and CEOS. Working outside of her job description, Nix dedicated countless hours and nearly two decades to curate events and raise fundings for the bank’s charitable foundations.

Colorado

Jan. 26

Black woman who cops held at gunpoint suing Aurora, Colorado 

A Black woman who was taken out of her car at gunpoint with her underage family by Aurora, Colo., police officers filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and police officials, reports NBC News.

The woman, Brittney Gilliam, had taken her younger sister, her daughter and her nieces for a “Sunday funday” in August when Aurora officers, their guns drawn, ordered her and the girls to lie face down, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Arapahoe County. Bystanders posted video of the incident last year that showed four girls in the group on the ground, some handcuffed, crying and screaming as officers surrounded them.

Gilliam alleges in her lawsuit that officers searched her and the girls at gunpoint without probable cause or evidence of a crime, targeting the family because they were Black.

Sept. 10

Steph, Aisha Curry roll into Oakland with bus to feed and teach kids

The bus is loud — in color and sound. That’s the way NBA star Stephen Curry and his entrepreneur wife, Ayesha Curry, prefer it. They want the kids to see it coming, reports NBC News. It would be difficult to miss what the Currys call the Eat. Learn. Play. Bus, a hot pink, pale blue and yellowish gold mobile unit that rolled out for the first time last Wednesday blaring music at an elementary school in Oakland, Cali.,

This multifaceted converted school bus is designed to do much more than the ice cream truck from a bygone era: feed, teach, energize and engage Black children and other youth of color in Oakland’s stressed communities. In Alameda County, nearly 42 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, according to one report. Also, according to Coach.org, Black children in Oakland are four times more likely to be reading multiple years below their grade level than White students.

Aug. 12

Colorado’s new redistricting process accused of ‘cracking’ historically Black areas

Anywhere you look around the Five Points neighborhood there is history; that history is in the buildings, the streets and the stories of the people who call the area home, reports the Denver Channel.

The area is a historical cultural district, one of only two in Denver, and has been recognized for the important role it played in the African-American community in the city.

The area has also been through a lot, from segregation to the KKK to redlining to busing and more.

Throughout good times and bad, this neighborhood and its neighbor in North Park Hill have stuck together and even voted together. The two neighborhoods have even been placed in the same legislative districts for decades.

Sept. 2 

Grand jury indicts police, paramedics in death of Black man

Two police officers, one former officer and two paramedics in Aurora, Colo., will face charges in the death of Elijah McCain, a young Black man who was detained, placed in a chokehold and given a powerful sedative in a confrontation with police in 2019, reports NBC BLK. 

The indictment comes after an eight-month grand jury investigation convened by Colorado’s top prosecutor.

State Attorney General Phil Weiser on Wednesday said the five defendants will be charged with one count each of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, as well as other charges in the 32-count indictment.

Sept. 2

Denver high school named after Black billionaire Robert Smith

The Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy is ready to take children to the next level, reports Afro Tech.

The Historically Black College and University (HBCU) prep high school in Denver has just opened its doors, and its inaugural class of freshmen will be treated to a rare twist on the “college prep experience.” Namely, the academy is designed to mimic the HBCU experience, and acand according to Vibe, it’s the first of its kind to do so.

Initially, according to co-founder Samatha Pryor, the plan was to name the school after First Lady Michelle Obama. Ultimately, however, it was decided to name the school after the chemical engineer turned investor. Pryor also said that the school was opened up in an area that was in desperate need of those types of resources.

Sept. 13 

Truck driver gets 16 years for slashing neck of Black man in hate crime

A Colorado trucker who nearly killed a Black man by slashing his neck in an unprovoked attack at an eastern Oregon truck stop was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison, reports the Associated Press.

Nolan Levi Strauss, 27, pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime involving an attempt to kill, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

His lawyer argued that Strauss committed the crime because he was off his mental health medication and having a manic episode. But prosecutors said there was no mistaking Strauss’ racial animosity in the Dec. 21, 2019, ambush in Ontario.

Strauss, of Colorado Springs, walked into the Arby’s next to the Pilot Travel Center along Interstate 84 near the Idaho border and stabbed Ronnell Hughes in the neck.

Connecticut

March 16

Black businesswoman denied funds at bank

The leader of an education advocacy group in Connecticut is shocked by a recent transaction at her local TD Bank and suspects racism was at play, reports the Huffington Post.

Gwen Samuel, who is Black, said a teller at a branch in Southington, Conn., refused to complete a withdrawal for her a few weeks ago, and she was forced to withdraw the money at another branch.

Samuel, CEO and founder of the group Connecticut Parents Union, which advocates for equal educational opportunities for children in Connecticut, said she went to the bank to withdraw just over $1,000 to pay a vendor, according to Fox 61.

May 28

Ava DuVernay adds ‘Dr.’ to her name after receiving degree from Yale

May 22 marked the 320th Commencement ceremony for Yale University in which the college’s 2021 graduating class of undergraduate, professional and graduate students gathered to be recognized for their latest academic accomplishment, Yale News reports. 

Award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay was honored when she received an honorary doctorate degree from the university. She is now considered to be a Doctor of Fine Arts.

“Creator and critic, you portray the richness and variety of human experience from all angles. By elevating others, you bring new stories into focus and amplify voices we need to hear,” Yale released in a tribute statement to DuVernay. “Hollywood maverick, for challenging us to reckon with our past and our present, and for working to change both an industry and society, Yale is pleased to confer on you this Doctor of Fine Arts degree.”

Delaware

Oct. 19 

Lewes Beach renamed to honor Black business owner

An eastern Delaware town has voted to change the name of one of its Delaware Bay beaches in honor of a former Black business owner, reports the Associated Press. The beach in Lewes, formerly named Beach 2, will now be called Johnnie Walker Beach after the African-American business owner who created a welcoming atmosphere for Black families during the years of segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. The name change was prompted by recommendations from the African American Heritage Commission.

Florida

Feb. 9

Rapper Kodak Black offers to pay college fees for kids of FBI agents killed in Florida

Earlier this year, outgoing President Donald Trump pardoned rapper Kodak Black for some weapons-related offenses, and now he is paying it forward. The 23-year-old Florida native offered to pay the college tuition for the children of the two FBI agents who were shot to death early February, reports Fox News. 

Two agents, Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger, were killed during a raid in Sunrise, Fla., along with the suspect, who reportedly used a doorbell camera to watch and allegedly shoot the agents through a closed door as they approached the home. Now, Kodak Black – real name Bill Kahan Kapri – has sent a letter to the FBI Miami Division offering to pay college tuition for the late agents’ children.

April 19

Florida nurse threatened to kill VP Kamala Harris

A Miami-area woman was charged in federal court with making threats to kill Vice President Kamala Harris in a series of videos she sent to her husband in prison, authorities said, reported NBC News.

Niviane Petit Phelps, 39, sent five 30-second videos and two photographs to her husband back in February through a service known as “JPay,” which is used to share media between incarcerated and non-incarcerated individuals, according to a Secret Service complaint.

May 19 

Black woman takes on Marco Rubio for Senate seat in Florida

Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida plans to run for the U.S. Senate in a bid to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is up for reelection in 2022, Politico and NBC News first reported.

An adviser to Demings confirmed to Huffington Post that she is planning a Senate bid and would make a formal announcement shortly.

May 20

Miami-based Black-owned wine company gets major boost

Last June, alcohol giant Constellations Brands Inc. committed to a $100 million investment in Black, Latinx and minority-owned businesses in the spirits industry over the next decade. Now the major player in the industry is making good on its promise by working with Black-owned wine brand La Fête du Rosé.

According to Essence, the Miami-based rosé label has become one of the many go-to wines for consumers, and with the help of Constellation Brands’ investment, the brand will grow to be even bigger.

Constellation Brands Inc. announced that the company would acquire a minority stake in the wine label, making this its first attempt to make good on its June 2020 pledge.

Oct. 6 

NBA star Jimmy Butler ventures into billion-dollar coffee industry

What started off as a playful exchange of selling cups of coffee for $20 has led to Jimmy Butler pursuing his passion to launch a coffee brand of his own in an industry valued at $465.9 billion in 2020, according to the Global Coffee Market, reports Afro Tech.

As the NBA headed to the bubble in Orlando, FL in 2020, Butler was disappointed at the lack of coffee options available. Looking to resolve his coffee cravings, Butler crafted his own “Big Face Coffee.”

“The reasoning behind [the name Big Face Coffee] was when we first got into the Bubble during the pandemic, I remember opening up our per diem and it was like $2,080 in there. Basically 20 $100 bills and four $20 bills,” Butler said.

Oct. 14

Black former firefighter sues Florida city after mural depicts her as White

A mural last year depicting a Florida city’s first Black female deputy  firefighter with a White face prompted a lawsuit, a public apology and the dismissals of two municipal employees — and it may soon result in an $80,000 payout, reports NBC News.

The woman, Latosha Clemons, 48, sued the city of Boynton Beach, about 60 miles north of Miami, in April for defamation and negligence. Her depiction in the mural, hung at a fire station and presented on June 3, 2020, elicited embarrassment and anger, according to Clemons’ lawsuit.

Nov. 23 

Groveland Four – Black men accused of rape in 1949 get case dismissed

In the summer of 1949, a 17-year-old lodged an accusation that would thrust the rural Florida community of Groveland into decades-long turmiold: The White teenager told police she and her husband were driving home from a dance when they were attacked by four young Black men who abducted and raped her at gunpoint, reports NBC News.

The claims made by Norma Padgett, who is now in her 80s, set off a manhunt that spurred an onslaught of violence against Black residents of Groveland, near Orlando, mobilizing the National Guard and prompting Thurgood Marshall, then a lead attorney for the NAACP, to take up the cause of the men who would come to be known as the Groveland Four.

It took seven decades before the state of Florida formally recognized how the four accused — Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Ernest Thomas — were failed by the criminal justice system. 

Georgia

Jan. 6

Warnock becomes Georgia’s first Black Senator

The state of Georgia turned Blue (Democratic) once again in Georgia’s Senate runoff, effectively making history while changing the power of the Senate. Raphael Warnock beat Republican Kelly Loeffler, becoming the first Black Senator from Georgia. And with Jon Ossoff’s victory over incumbent David Perdue, the Senate is now half Democrat, half Republican, with vice-president Kamala Harris, also a Democrat, deciding any ties. 

Jan. 7

Black woman breaks ground as new sheriff in rural Georgia

Georgia broke tradition by electing its first Black senator in Raphael Warnock and altering the U.S. Senate. Change came to law enforcement as well with the selection of Tia McWilliams, the first Black sheriff in Taliaferro County. 

Out of Wilkes County, Ga., she’s been with the Sheriff’s Office for nearly 20 years, most recently as Chief Deputy. 

Feb. 3

Case of 2 Black cops fired for tasing students overturned

Two Atlanta police officers who were fired after bodycam footage showed them pulling two Black college students from a car and using stun guns on them during last summer’s protests have gotten their jobs back, reports NBC News.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms confirmed Tuesday in a statement that the city’s Civil Service Board had reversed the firings.

Feb. 5

Clark Atlanta receives $250,000 grant

Clark Atlanta University received $250,000 from Diageo North America to create a permanent endowment fund and provide financial aid grants to talented students across different disciplines and majors, reports PR Newswire.

Feb. 8

Shaq Awards grants to six Georgia schools

Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal is helping Georgia high school athletes safely get back in the game. According to WSB-TV, the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation partnered with Icy Hot and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association to award grants to six Title 1 high schools hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Morehouse polo team accepted into U.S. Polo Association

Morehouse College has always been a groundbreaker, and that legacy of shaking up the establishment continues as the school will now have the only polo team among Historically Black Colleges and Universities, reports Atlanta Magazine. 

The U.S. Polo Association, the governing body of the sport, has officially invited the Maroon Tigers polo club into the organization, immediately allowing Morehouse to be involved in Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) division competitions.

Feb. 10

Legislation being introduced to help Black farmers            

Lawmakers introduced two bills to help minority farmers this week, aiming to address long standing injustices in the agricultural sector, reports Reuters. Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock introduced a $5 billion Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief stimulus package. It aims to provide immediate financial relief to Black, indigenous and Hispanic farmers.

The bill would provide direct payments to farmers of color and allocate $1 billion to address systemic racism at the U.S. Agriculture Department, provide legal assistance to farmers of color and grants and loans to improve land access for minorities.

Suit alleges murder cover up

Ahmaud Arbery’s mother filed a federal civil suit  alleging that police in Glynn County, Ga., and two local prosecutors conspired to cover up Arbery’s murder and protect the men involved in his death, reports NBC News.

The suit seeks $1 million in damages and claims that the police department and officials with the Brunswick County District Attorney’s Office worked together to paint Arbery as a violent criminal and absolve suspects Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and their neighbor William Bryan of wrongdoing.

Music industry vet pens book on Atlanta’s music history

Libby Anthony is a staple on the Atlanta music scene and has been so for more decades than she may be willing to admit. She was a witness – and a participant – to the early days, back when clubs were called juke joints and the music was more often than not of the blues nature.

She lays it all out in her book, “Jookin’ in the A” – Atlanta Entertainment History.” Anthony, head of COPE (Club Owners, Promoters and Entertainers), has worked in the industry in a variety of capacities, including as an agent, an event planner, etc. If it had to do with live entertainment, she was a part of it.

“Years ago when we started COPE, we started outing together an Atlanta club owner’s history,” she says of her motivation for the book. “I decided to continue after I found mistakes in our first undertaking because the ‘unsung economic and cultural value’ has been so understated in preserving our history. Entertainment has value beyond entertainment; it adds character and has a huge economic impact in Black communities. We must preserve and honor this rich history because there are also lessons to learn. I think we need to be cognizant of keeping music in the schools and its impact and the ongoing plight of promoters and artists.”

Atlanta Dream sold – new owners include Black woman

Last year when civil unrest hit Atlanta as well as other U.S. cities in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the Dream, Atlanta’s WNBA team, came out in support of the protests and Black Lives Matter. This didn’t sit well with owner, Kelly Loeffler, the team’s White owner who happened to be running against a Black candidate in a very heated battle for Congress. Several high-profile Black entrepreneurs expressed interest in buying the Dream, including LeBron James and Kevin Hart.

The WNBA and NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream to a three-member investor group that includes former player Renee Montgomery, who is Black, reports USA Today.

In addition to Mongomery, investors include chairman of real estate group Northland, Larry Gottesdiener, and Northland President and COO Suzzane Abair. 

Young entrepreneur donates $100,00 

in scholarships for HBCU students

Bryce Thompson is a 24-year-old Black entrepreneur, is a Morehouse College graduate residing in the Atlanta area who pays his blessings forward. 

For Black History Month, he gifted 10 HBCU students with $100,000 in scholarships in partnership with Scholly, reports Blackwallsttimes.com. He remembers a time when he struggled as a college student. 

March 9

12-year-old accepted at Georgia Tech

Caleb Anderson has been accepted into Georgia Tech at the age of 12. He intends to study aerospace engineering, reports 11 Alive News. His story is so amazing that it inspired people around the world. 

Now, the 12-year-old from Marietta is taking the next giant leap in his educational journey. His parents told 11Alive that they knew he was special when he was able to sign 250 words at just 9 months old. He was reading the U.S. Constitution at age two.

March 16

Spelman College campaign to invest $250 million in tech and innovation

Spelman College (Atlanta) launched a $250 million campaign to invest in endowed professionals, scholarships and innovation initiatives, reports Afro-Tech.

The campaign named Spelman Ascends is the largest of its kind that the educational institution has led. In the last three years, donors have made gifts to Spelman amounting to $240 million. Spelman is looking to raise $250 million total by 2024 and the college is on track to achieving its goal.

March 18 

Blacks in Atlanta rally around Asian Americans

Nothing would deter Kat Bagger from standing up and trying to unify Atlantans based on the principles for which her city is known. That was how she responded to the shootings at three Georgia spas that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent, reports NBC News.

 “This is incredibly upsetting, the Asian community is a cornerstone of Atlanta, and this just blows my mind that we’re seeing the amount of violence toward Asian people,” said Bagger, 23, who is Black and hoisted a Stop Asian Hate sign in front of Gold Spa, one of the shooting sites. “Atlanta is a civil rights city. This is what we do, we protect the people.”

March 29 

Stacey Abram’s group goes after new voter suppression law

You’d think by now the Republicans in Georgia had learned not to square off against rising Democratic star Stacey Abrams. After all, she is credited with driving Blacks to the polls in record numbers in both the November presidential election and the senatorial election in January that put Biden over the top and gave Democrats control of the Senate. But no, they had to challenge her and her well put together coalition.

Three voting rights groups – including the one founded by Abrams – have sued the state of Georgia, claiming sweeping new voting restrictions signed into law Thursday — including limiting ballot drop boxes and shortening voting hours — violate the Voting Rights Act, as Republicans in the state face backlash for passing a bill many considered a voter suppression effort, according to Forbes. 

The New Georgia Project — which was founded by activist and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — along with the Black Voters Matter Fund and Rise Inc. filed a lawsuit against state election officials last Thursday evening in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

The suit seeks injunctive action to block new election restrictions outlined in Senate Bill 202 — the “Voter Suppression Bill,” as plaintiffs label It — which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp after quickly passing the state House and Senate in votes along party lines.

The bill outlines numerous new constraints when it comes to voting in the state, such as limiting the amount of ballot drop boxes, shortening the early voting period and prohibiting non-poll workers from giving food or water to voters waiting in line.

The lawsuit alleges the bill violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by making it harder for Black Georgians to access ballots, while also claiming it violates the first and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution by creating an undue burden on the right to vote.

March 30

Former FLOTUS, Image Awards recognize Stacey Abrams

That name – Stacey Abrams – has been hitting the news for about three years now. This is a young Black woman making waves, especially since 2018 when she suspiciously lost the Georgia gubernatorial race to a Republican. Since then she’s been on a tear to change Georgia blue, and that’s she’s done, Her efforts to get out the Black vote in the Peach State resulted in Georgia putting Biden over the top in the Presidential election and then giving Democrats control of the Senate with the elections of Rafael Warnock and Jon Osoff. 

No doubt her efforts – and her political savvy – are being recognized. 

At this year’s NAACP Image Awards, Abrams was honored with the first ever Social Justice Impact Award, presented to her by former First Lady Michelle Obama. “Her courage … it’s contagious, her approach is inclusive, and her eyes are fixed on the mountaintop that has always brought out the best within us,” Obama said. “And that’s why it’s my honor to present the inaugural NAACP Social Justice Impact Award to the unstoppable Stacey Abrams.”

Abrams has also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

April 12

Atlanta’s mayor signs order to fight Georgia’s new voter law restrictions

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed an executive order last week meant to expand voting access in response to Georgia’s racist new vote restrictions.

The mayor’s order directs Atlanta’s chief equity officer to develop and implement a plan within the city’s authority to mitigate the effect of the state law, known as SB 202, that’s brought nationwide condemnation for significantly rolling back voting access and information, specifically in Black and Brown communities.

April 30

Spelman students win $1 million competition

Five Spelman students won $1 million in the Goldman Sachs “Market Madness” competition, reports Afro Tech. A press release confirms that the winning five-student team competed against seven other teams from seven other HBCUs to, ultimately, “take home the gold.”

Britney Kwakye, Gia Tejeda, Whitney Williams, Anisah Thomas and Caroline Whitfield were the five Spelman students on the “Goldman Sachs Dream Team.”

They competed against students from Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T State University and Prairie View A&M University.

May 3

Morehouse team withdraws from debate tournament after anti-Black taunts from White rival team

According to the Undefeated, Morehouse College withdrew from a debate tournament after members of a rival team mocked the team with anti-Black sentiments and disrespect toward the team, reports NBC News and Black Enterprise.

The decision to leave the tournament came after Morehouse participated during Round 5 of the USUDC (United States Universities Debating Championship) when the Black college was being mocked by members of rival debate teams, including students from the University of Hawaii. The other rival teams were also being disrespectful toward the Morehouse team by turning their cameras on during the time that Morehouse was speaking, which was not allowed given the virtual format of the debate.

May 10

Georgia Governor signs bill repealing citizen’s arrest law after Ahmaud Arbery killed

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed legislation on Monday repealing an old law that allowed for “citizen’s arrests” in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, by three White men last year. 

The legislation, House Bill 479, repeals a law from 1863 which broadly allowed residents to detain someone they suspected of a crime. 

Under the new legislation, private citizens generally cannot detain others and can only use force if it’s in self-defense or to prevent a “forcible felony” such as murder or armed robbery. Business owners can still detain someone who they believe is stealing and must then release them to law enforcement. 

Lawmakers in Georgia’s House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the new legislation earlier this year.

At the bill signing Tuesday, Kemp said the new legislation would be “replacing a Civil War-era law ripe for abuse.”

“One year ago a video shocked the world and sickened hearts,” the Republican governor said of the murder of Arbery, who he said was a “victim of vigilante-style violence that has no place in our country or our state.”  

May 26

Former NBA star Dominique Wilkinsclaims discrimination at Atlanta eatery

An Atlanta restaurant issued a second, more extensive apology to Dominique Wilkins and promised it would provide “diversity, equity and inclusion training” for its employees while reevaluating its dress code. The basketball Hall of Famer and Atlanta Hawks icon had claimed that he was the victim of racist mistreatment there, reports the Washington Post.

“In my many years in the world, I’ve eaten at some of the greatest restaurants in the world, but never have I felt prejudice or been turned away because of the color of my skin, until today,” Wilkins tweeted. He added the phrase “Turned away because I’m Black” as a hashtag, and included the name of Le Bilboquet, a restaurant in Atlanta’s popular Buckhead neighborhood, as well as a photo of its exterior seating.

“We sincerely apologize to Dominique Wilkins for the events that occurred on May 22,” Le Bilboquet said. “No patron of our restaurants should be made to feel unwelcome or less than, and for that we are deeply sorry. It was never our intention to make Mr. Wilkins — or anyone else for that matter — feel that way at our restaurant.”

June 2

Shaq donates 500 pairs of shoes to students in Georgia school

About 100 kids at Wesley Lakes Elementary school in McDonough (Georgia) got a first hand chance to meet former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and pick up some new sneakers, reports WSB-TV.

The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation, Reebok and Soles4Souls teamed up for the celebration last weekend. It’s part of their mission to distribute 500 new pairs of shoes to kids in need in Henry County by the end of the summer.

The former NBA superstar and current NBA analyst was there himself for the celebration as he was kind of hard to miss. O’Neal helped the kids celebrate making it through a pandemic challenged year that they may never experience again.

June 22

Georgia State hires first Black president

The former provost of George Washington University has made history by becoming the first Black president of Georgia State University, reports the Savannah Morning News.

Dr. M. Brian Blake comes to Georgia State University as the former provost and the executive vice president of academic affairs.

June 23

Ikea under fire for offering chicken and watermelon on a Juneteenth menu

A Georgia Ikea store has apologized for its effort to honor Juneteenth with a menu that included dishes associated with racist stereotypes of Black Americans, reports the Huffington Post.

The Atlanta branch of the European furniture giant reportedly emailed staff Friday about its plan to commemorate the annual holiday, which marks the long-delayed arrival of news about enslaved people’s emancipation in Texas in 1865.

The lunch menu included items fried chicken, watermelon, mac ‘n’ cheese and collard greens, employees told Atlanta station CBS46.

Roughly 20 employees walked off the job to protest the menu, an Ikea spokesperson said in a statement.

iHeartMedia Atlanta partners with Operation HOPE to launch 10,000 Black-owned businesses

iHeartMedia Atlanta is committed to helping aspiring Black entrepreneurs thrive, reports Afro Tech.

The company will assist 10,000 aspiring Black entrepreneurs in the Atlanta metro area with the resources needed to launch their businesses.

July 9 

Statue of John Lewis goes in Atlanta area park

Samuel and Henry Lewis, the younger brothers of the late John Lewis, just watched as dozens of people, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Ambassador Andrew Young, scrambled to get their photos taken in front of a massive statue of the congressman that harkened the opening of the new Rodney Cook Sr. Park in Vine City, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“All I can say is wow,” Henry Lewis finally said, looking at the crowd and then the statue.

Watching his brother search for words, Samuel Lewis, wearing a “Good Trouble” hat, asked Henry Lewis what their father, Eddie, a sharecropper who in 1944 took $300 in savings and purchased 110 acres of Alabama dirt to make a home for his family, would say at this moment.

“That’s my boy,” Henry Lewis said.

National Black Bank Foundation partners for $1.2 billion

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has announced a partnership to support the launch and growth of the National Black Bank Foundation (NBBF), whose co-Founder and general counsel is Ashley D. Bell. The Community Foundation is serving as fiscal sponsor of NBBF as it awaits its final IRS determination letter, which will allow it to act as an independent nonprofit entity, reports BlackNews.com.

The Community Foundation also will provide ongoing administrative services to NBBF by way of back-office support including financial oversight, managing donations to the organization, and amplifying the mission across a network of 800 community foundations across the U.S., thus accelerating NBBF’s ability to grow and scale its impact in local communities.

Aug. 2

New film revisits mysterious death of Black teen athlete in rural Georgia

The mysterious death of a Black high school wrestler in 2013 is the subject of “Finding Kendrick Johnson” — a new documentary that came out Friday (July 30) — and the boy’s family is hoping its release could lead to people with information coming forward, reports NBCBLK.

The body of Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found wrapped in a wrestling mat in the Lowndes High School gym in Valdosta, Ga. His death was ruled an accidental asphyxiation by state and local law officials, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who said the teen inadvertently caused his own demise by diving into a rolled-up mat to retrieve his sneakers.   

Aug. 12 

Atlanta mom files complaint alleging daughter’s grade school segregated Black students

A woman in Atlanta filed a federal complaint alleging civil rights violations at her daughter’s elementary school because it segregated Black students from their classmates, reports NBC News.

The woman, Kila Posey, 43, who is Black, said she learned last year that Principal Sharyn Briscoe of Mary Lin Elementary School was separating the school’s 12 Black students in the second grade from their classmates.

Sept. 3 

Ex-prosecutor indicted for misconduct in Ahmaud Arbery death

A former Georgia prosecutor was indicted Thursday on misconduct charges alleging she used her position to shield the men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery from being charged with crimes immediately after the shootings, reports the Associated Press.

A grand jury in coastal Glynn County indicted former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson on charges of violating her oath of office and hindering a law enforcement officer.

Arbery was killed Feb. 23, 2020, after a White father and son, Greg and Travis McMichael, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-Black man in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood outside the coastal city of Brunswick.

A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun. The McMichales said they believed Arbery was a burglar and that he was shot after attacking Travis McMichael with his fists.

Police did not charge any of them immediately following the shooting, and the McMichaels and Bryan remained free for more than two months until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case. All three were charged with murder in May 2020 and face trial this fall.

Sept. 23

Gunna opens free grocery store in his old neighborhood with Goodr founder Jasmine 

It was not a typical school day for the students attending McNair Middle School one recent afternoon as Atlanta rapper Gunna made a surprise appearance to share exciting news, reports Afro Tech.

Thanks to him and Goodr founder Jasmine Crowe, more than 900 students at his childhood school will now have access to an exclusive grocery and clothing store, Gunna’s Drip Closet, in which every item will be available free of charge.

Oct. 4 

Black teen, 13, enters Georgia Tech as official student

He’s young, Black and gifted. While most kids are preparing to go to middle school at 13-years old, Caleb Anderson is hitting the books big time at Georgia Tech, where he is a sophomore studying aerospace engineering, reports Afro Tech.

Caleb Anderson has been a whiz kid since before he got to Georgia Tech, but he gives praise to his parents for fueling his love for learning over the years.

Hawaii

April 28

Hawaii almost last state to recognize Juneteenth

Hawaii was poised to become the 49th state to recognize Junrteenth after the House and Senate passed legislation designating June 19 as a day ro commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, reports NBC News. If Hawaii’s governor signs the bill, South Dakota will be the only remaining state that doesn’t recognize the day as either a state holiday or a day of observance.

South Dakota’s Senate passed a measure earlier this year that would observe the day, but the bill didn’t make it through the House. In North Dakota, the governor on April 12 signed legislation designating it a ceremonial holiday.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige hasn’t indicated his plans for the bill, which will not make the day a state holiday.

Oct. 21

Black girl arrested in Hawaii at school over a drawing The American Civil

Liberties Union (ACLU) of Hawaii is demanding policy changes after a 10-year-old Black girl was arrested at school over a drawing linked to a “run of the mill” dispute among children, reports CNN.

In response to the incident, the ACLU sent a letter to the Honolulu Police Department, the state Department of Education and the state attorney general’s office asking them to adopt policy changes, expunge all records of the arrest, and to pay $500,000 in damages for “harm and suffering” caused by their agencies.

In January 2020, a parent called the Honowai Elementary School in Honolulu to complain about the drawing made by the girl and demanded the staff call police, the ACLU said.

When police arrived, the girl, who was only identified as “N.B,” was “handcuffed with excessive force and taken to the police station,” the ACLU said.

Idaho

March 30

Teacher makes history as first African-American man to become first full professor at University of Idaho

Dr. Sydney Freeman Jr. — a man who is a direct descendant of slaves — has become the first African-American man to earn the rank of full professor at the University of Idaho, reports Afro Tech in conjunction with CBS News.

Freeman achieved the full professorship at the University of Idaho in five years and seven months on a tenure track. Most professors take an average of 10 to 12 years to achieve the rank of full professor, if they’re even lucky to get on a tenure track.

“If we want to see Idaho grow and be more inclusive, we have to bring that inclusion in and so it’s important for us to not only have conversations about it but actually invest in diversifying faculty and staff but also retaining them,”  Freeman said.

While Freeman is the first African-American to earn the title of a tenured professor at the University of Idaho, there have been other Black men — of African descent — who have achieved this feat, such as Ethiopian native Dr. Wudneh Admassu, who was the first person of African descent to earn the rank of full professor at the University of Idaho. In 2019, Prof. Shaakirrah Sanders became and remains the only Black woman to earn the rank of full professor at the University of Idaho.

Sept. 13

Judge says discrimination lawsuit against University of Idaho can go forward

A federal judge says a discrimination lawsuit filed against the University of Idaho by a UI College of Law professor can move forward, reports the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill rejected a request from the University of Idaho to throw out the lawsuit last week, the Lewiston Tribune reported.

Professor Shaakirrah Sanders was hired to teach at the College of Law in 2011 and in 2018 became the first African American to achieve the rank of full professor at the school. She filed the lawsuit several years ago, alleging that she was unfairly denied an associate dean position in 2017, that she faced a variety of unfair conditions and terms of employment, and that school officials retaliated against her when she complained about the treatment.

Illinois

Jan. 29

Former home of Emmett Till named landmark

Emmett Till’s former Chicago home in the Woodlawn neighborhood has been granted landmark status, reports WLS ABC7. Till was a Chicago teen who was brutally killed by a White mob at the age of 14, while visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955. His murder sparked the Civil Rights Movement. Chicago’s City Council approved landmark status for the Victorian-era two flat in the 6400-block of South St. Lawrence Wednesday, Jan. 27.

It was home to Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who lived on the second floor. Other relatives lived on the first and garden levels. Mamie Till-Mobley lived in the house for several more years. 

March 11

Chicago city issuing reparations

A suburb of Chicago is setting a precedent for racial equality as it moves forward in becoming the first city in the country to fund reparations for its Black residents — but some residents say it doesn’t go far enough to truly be called reparations, reports NBC News.

Evanston, just north of Chicago, voted to approve a groundbreaking measure in 2019 in which the city would financially compensate its Black residents to address the wealth and opportunity gaps they have experienced because of historical racism and discrimination.

Using community donations and revenue from a 3-percent tax collected on the sale of recreational cannabis, the city adopted a reparations fund and pledged to distribute $10 million over 10 years.

March 22 

NBA teams the Bulls and Thunder partner to launch virtual Black history program for high schoolers

NBA teams Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder have joined forces to launch a multi-year, first-of-its-kind virtual program to educate high school students on the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 and 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, NBA.com reports.

Arriving on the heels of the centennial recognition of the Chicago Race Riot and the 100-year mark of the Tulsa Race Massacre this spring, the Black History Classroom Exchange is an interactive program that will give students an opportunity to learn about these two historical Black events in American history that have been notoriously left out of school curriculums, reports Afro-Tech.

The purpose of the program is to consider what’s occurred in Black America’s past in an effort to empower current and future generations of students to discover new ways in which they can expand economic empowerment within their own communities.

June 2 

Black CNN Security sues over arrest during George Floyd protest

A Black security guard working for a news crew during last year’s protests over the killing of George Floyd alleged in a lawsuit filed that he was unlawfully arrested while his White colleagues were left alone, reports NBC News.

Michael Cooper, a 64-year-old retired Illinois State Police trooper, filed the suit against Minnesota State Patrol trooper Patrick Kelly and a Minnesota State Patrol trooper identified in the suit only as Jane Doe.

Cooper was working as a security officer for CNN’s broadcast team on May 30, 2020, when a member of the news team was shot by a rubber bullet and the whole team “encountered a barrage of tear gas,” the suit said.

Cooper suggested to the team that they “calmly” approach troopers, show them their press credentials and ask how to safely exit the area, the suit said. Cooper then held his Illinois State Police credentials in the air and, with a producer, approached the troopers.

Cooper repeatedly said he was press, but the troopers ignored him and told him to walk backwards, kneel, lay down and “place his arms straight out from his body with his palms facing straight up,” the suit said. Cooper complied.

Kelly and other troopers then knocked Cooper’s identification out of his hand and handcuffed him, the suit said. Cooper never resisted, but explained that he was a member of the press and retired law enforcement.

He was handcuffed for at least an hour and a half and then booked into the Hennepin County’s Sheriff’s Office.

Doe had said Cooper was in violation of curfew, even though he tried to explain that press was exempt. He was booked on a violation of curfew and a carrying a concealed weapon charge without a permit, even though he had a permit to carry, the suit said.

Cooper was held at the jail for 20 hours before he was released. He was never formally charged.

July 13 

Chicago rapper shot 64 times

A Chicago rapper was gunned down in a hail of bullets moments after he walked out of jail and had been fitted for an ankle bracelet, reports the New York Post.

When 31-year-old Londre Sylvester left Cook County Jail gunmen got out of two parked cars and shot him 64 times, according to a police report obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

Aug. 17

New Illinois law bans ‘hairstyle discrimination’ in school

Illinois schools will be prohibited from issuing rules regarding hairstyles historically associated with race and ethnicity, such as braids and twists, under a new law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, reports the Associated Press.

The measure approved by the legislature this spring and signed by Pritzker aims to end discrimination based on students’ hairstyles. It is known as the Jett Hawkins Law after Gus “Jett” Hawkins, a Black student who at age 4 was told to take out his braids because the hairstyle violated the dress code at his Chicago school.

Aug. 26

Olympian will use her prize money to acquire food truck for mom

Tamyra Mensah-Stock walked away from the Olympics with gold. Now, she’s using her heart of gold to give back to the woman that made it all possible — her mother, reports Afro Tech.

The 28-year-old athlete made history during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when she became the first Black woman to win a gold medal in wrestling. After defeating Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu in the women’s 68-kilogram freestyle wrestling, Mensah-Stock secured a spot in the history books by becoming the first Black American woman to win a gold medal in wrestling. She is the second American woman to walk away with the title.

Sept. 9

Black woman speaks out after police officer attempts to tackle her in park

A Black woman said she was walking out of a closed park in Chicago, adhering to police instructions, when a White police officer attempted to tackle her, allegedly unprovoked, reports ABC News.

On Aug. 28, Nikkita Brown said the officer drove up to her as she was walking her dog in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago and told her to leave the area immediately.

Brown agreed, but the officer insisted on driving behind her as she walked out of the park, and eventually got out of his vehicle to follow her on foot, she told ABC News in an exclusive interview airing on “Good Morning America.”

Sept. 13

Illinois town to become a national landmark, thanks to Black family

As a child, Gerald McWorter often listened to his father tell stories about growing up on a farm in New Philadelphia, Ill. But it wasn’t until a family reunion in 2005 that he fully understood the significance of his lineage: Everyone he met that day was in some way affected by the story of his great-great-grandfather, a formerly enslaved man from Kentucky who in 1836 became the first Black person in the United States to plan and register a town.

During Frank McWorter’s time, New Philadelphia thrived as a community where Black and White families worked together as equals long before the Civil War was fought to preserve — or destroy — that possibility.

The revelations have emerged through three decades of archeological digs, advocacy by local community members, oral histories and family artifacts, letters and research. The momentum was enough to convince Gerald McWorter, 78, that he and other relatives “had an obligation” to “become stewards of a story that is bigger than us.”

Also convinced was Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), who introduced a bill that would designate the site of New Philadelphia a part of the National Park Service. The measure passed the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously and will be brought to the House floor for a vote this fall.

Sept. 22

Illinois professor charged with hate crime 

A professor is charged with a hate crime and accused of spitting on a Black woman and hurling racial slurs at her and her 7-year-old daughter outside a suburban Chicago grocery store earlier this month, court records said, reports NBC News/Associated Press.

In addition to the felony hate crime charge, Alberto Friedmann is also charged with felony aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, according to court records from Cook County.

Sept. 30 

Obamas break ground on presidential library in Chicago 

Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground on the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago Tuesday, beginning one of the final steps in the long-delayed project, reports CNN.

During an event at the center’s construction site on Chicago’s South Side, the former President spoke about his desire to make the center more than just a “static museum,” but for it to strengthen democratic ideas at a time when Americans are “seeing more division and increasingly bitter conflict.”

Oct. 10

Common opens fully equipped studio in correctional facility in his hometown

Chicago native and Grammy award-winning rapper Common made an imprint this past Tuesday for incarcerated inmates inside the Stateville Correctional Center in Cresthill, Ill., reports Afro Tech. 

The inmates will receive a rare opportunity to tap into their creative endeavors with the incorporation of a built-in studio. The idea was conceptualized by Attorney Ari Williams, who was seeking alternative solutions for inmates to find outlets while fulfilling their sentences.

“I know music brings us all together. I want them to be OK. I want them to do something they love to do,” Williams said. “And I know many of them are rappers. They love to rap and they love to sing.”

Tapping into horizontal networking, Williams was able to contact Common to bring her vision to light. The native rapper utilized his platform to craft the studio space, which will provide tangible resources and a creative outlet.

Dec. 10 

Jussie Smollett found guilty of falsely reporting a hate crime

A Chicago jury reached guilty verdicts Thursday on five of six charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of falsely reporting that he was the victim of a disturbing, hate-fueled beating, reports NBC BLK.

The panel, which had deliberated since Wednesday afternoon, weighed six counts of felony disorderly conduct against Smollett for telling police that he was brutally at 2:45 a.m. Jan. 29, 2019, in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.

The offenses are class 4 felonies and could be punishable by up to three years behind bars. But Smollett has a clean criminal record, making any jail time highly unlikely.

Indiana

May 18

Black homeowner gets lowballed, she conceals her race, house value doubles

A Black Indianapolis homeowner who had a nagging suspicion that her house was lowballed in two appraisals last year went to great lengths to conceal her race in a third. She removed photos of herself and her relatives and had a White friend pose as her brother for the appraiser’s home visit, reports NBC News.

The result? The appraisal of Carlette Duffy’s home more than doubled.

Duffy’s home, which was assessed by different companies last year, was first appraised at $125,000, then $110,000 and finally $259,000 in November, according to the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. The nonprofit announced this month that it had filed housing discrimination complaints on Duffy’s behalf with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Amy Nelson, executive director of the group representing Duffy, said it’s “heartbreaking” that she had to do so much to secure a fair appraisal.

“In order for the value of her home to be accurate, she had to remove herself completely from the home,” Nelson said Monday. “She was at first ecstatic that she did in fact get the value that she thought her home deserved. … But then almost immediately after, she was heartbroken with the fact of what she had to do in order to get that value.”

Duffy, who was trying to refinance her mortgage last year, took additional steps on her third appraisal to ensure better results, according to the Fair Housing Center.

She did not declare her race or gender as part of the appraisal application process, and she limited her interactions with the appraiser to email, Nelson said.

The complaints allege discrimination against Duffy based on her “race” and “color.” They argue that the lower valuations amount to violations of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 as amended by the Fair Housing Act of 1988.

The first complaint names Citywide Home Loans, its employee Craig Hodges and Jeffrey Pierce of Pierce Appraisal Inc. No one named in the complaint responded to requests for comment Monday. The complaint says Pierce visited Duffy’s home on or around March 31, 2020.

Oct. 14

Police sergeant charged after video shows him kicking handcuffed man in head

A federal investigation has been opened after a police sergeant was filmed stomping on the head of an Indianapolis man while he was lying handcuffed on the ground, reports Huffington Post.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Indiana announced that it is looking into the Sept. 24 incident, which led to criminal charges being filed this week against Indianapolis Police Sgt. Eric Huxley.

Iowa

April 27

Black man paralyzed from police shooting receives $8 million settlement

A day before a lawsuit asserting a White police officer recklessly shot and paralyzed a Black motorist in 2016 was to go to trial, an insurance carrier for the city of Cedar Rapids (Iowa) agreed Monday to pay motorist Jerime Mitchell and his wife $8 million.

The city maintained it was prepared to go to trial and defend the actions of the officer involved in the shooting, Lucas Jones, even though the police department has since fired him. But insurance carrier States Insurance agreed to the deal, without acknowledging fault or liability on the part of the defendants. The settlement is subject to approval by the City Council, reports the Gazette.

June 22 

Black owned coffee and tea brand inks deal with NBA

BLK & Bold, a Des Moines-based Black-owned coffee company, has announced a multi-year partnership with the NBA, reports Afro Tech in conjunction with the Des Moines Register.

The specialty coffee and tea brand — which was founded by Rod Johnson and Pernell Cezar in 2018 — first began its expansion efforts when it became the first Black-owned coffee company to get a national distribution contract with Whole Foods Market.

Blk & Bold is currently available in 31 different Whole Foods Markets across the Midwest region. It also has its own Amazon storefront, and is available at select Target locations, as well.

July 14

Iowa county renamed after first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in the state

Johnson County, Iowa, will still operate as Johnson County, but it will take its name from another Johnson — the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in the state.

According to NPR, Lulu Merle Johnson was a professor and historian born in 1907 in a small town by the name of Gravity located in southwestern Iowa.

Her father was born into slavery and would go on to work as a barber. Johnson’s mother was the daughter of freed slaves.

During the time of her enrollment at the State University of Iowa in 1925, Johnson was one of 14 Black women at the university. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the university by 1930 before receiving her Ph.D. in 1941.

July 25 

Black teen makes sutures that change color, will save lives

Dasia Taylor has juiced about three dozen beets in the last 18 months. The root vegetables she found provide the perfect dye for her invention: suture thread that changes color, from bright red to dark purple, when a surgical wound becomes infected, reports Smithsonian Mag.com.

The 17-year-old student at Iowa City West High School in Iowa City, Iowa, began working on the project in October 2019, after her chemistry teacher shared information about state-wide science fairs with the class. As she developed her sutures, she nabbed awards at several regional science fairs, before advancing to the national stage. 

Aug. 23 

Woman gets 25 years for trying to run over kids because of race

A White Iowa woman who admitted she ran over and tried to kill two children with her car because of their race was sentenced in federal court to 25 years in prison, reports NBCBLK.

Nicole Poole Franklin, 43, pleaded guilty in April to federal hate crime charges for attempting to kill a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl in December 2019.

The Department of Justice said she targeted the minors “because of their race and national origin.” The boy is Black and the girl is Hispanic.

Kentucky

Feb. 2

Kentucky Derby Museum to showcase Black horsemen

Kentucky Derby Museum will be highlighting stories of Black horsemen, who not only dominated the sport of Thoroughbred racing in the early days of the Kentucky Derby but continue to make a lasting mark on its legacy, reports Bloodline.com. 

Oliver Lewis, Isaac Murphy and Ansel Williamson are just a handful of legendary names that guests will learn about during two new immersive opportunities at the Kentucky Derby Museum. 

April 29

First Black jockey in Kentucky Derby since 2013

Long before Kendrick Carmouche started riding horses growing up in Louisiana, Black jockeys were synonymous with the sport.

Black riders were atop 13 of the 15 horses in the first Kentucky Derby in 1875 and won 15 of the first 28 editions of the race. Everything has changed since: Carmouche on Saturday will be the first Black jockey in the Kentucky Derby since 2013 and is just one of a handful over the past century, reports NBC News.

Carmouche is now one of the few remaining Black jockeys in the U.S. Much like Marlon St. Julien in 2000, Patrick Husbands in 2006 and Kevin Krigger in 2013, his presence in horse racing’s biggest event is a reminder of how the industry marginalized Black jockeys to the point they all but disappeared from the sport.

“As a Black rider getting to the Kentucky Derby, I hope it inspires a lot of people because my road wasn’t easy to get there and I never quit,” Carmouche said. “What I’ve been wanting all my career is to inspire people and make people know that it’s not about color. It’s about how successful you are in life and how far you can fight to get to that point.”

July 23

Black brothers open bourbon distillery in Kentucky

A group of Louisville brothers just opened the first Black-owned bourbon distillery in the state of Kentucky, WKYT reports.

Bryson, Chris and Victor Yarborough were born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, eventually leaving the city to serve in the U.S. Army and travel the world. When the brothers decided they wanted to start a business, the trio knew they had to come back home if they were going to leave their mark.

Louisiana

Feb. 9

Louisiana investigating cops after death of Black man in custody

The Louisiana State Police on Monday arrested four troopers accused of using excessive force, deactivating their body-worn cameras and making false statements about two arrests in 2019 and 2020, reports the Huffington Post.

The charges followed a monthslong internal investigation into use of force incidents in the northern part of the state — a probe begun amid mounting scrutiny of the agency’s Troop F, which patrols the Monroe area and the surrounding parishes.

March 3

Tulane doctor files discrimination lawsuit

Dr. Princess Dennar of Tulane University was just a child in Southwest Philadelphia when she decided to become a doctor.

Many of the children in the predominantly Black neighborhood often rode their bikes in the street, but there were few stop signs to keep them safe. She still remembers the day one of the kids was hit by a car. It took hours before an ambulance came to help, Dennar said. If she had been a doctor, she could have helped sooner, she remembers thinking.

Decades later, Dennar became the first Black woman to head the Tulane University School of Medicine’ internal medicine-pediatrics program, reports NBC News.

March 8

Robert E. Lee Boulevard to be renamed after Black musician

The treble clefs on the gates and below the windows on a modest home in New Orleans are subtle signs that Black musician Allen Toussaint once lived on Robert E. Lee Boulevard. Soon, it could be more obvious.

According to WWL-TV, the City Council’s Street Renaming Commission voted recently to recommend changing the street name to honor the late musician and composer.

May 7 

LSU picks its first Black president

Louisiana State University chose its new leader Thursday, naming William Tate as the university system’s first Black president, reports the Associated Press.

Tate, provost at the University of South Carolina, was the unanimous pick of the LSU Board of Supervisors after public in-person interviews with three finalists and 90 minutes of closed-door debate among board members. He started the job as LSU president — overseeing multiple campuses and serving as chancellor of the flagship campus in Baton Rouge — in July.

June 11

Louisiana police unit probed over Black driver’s death

The same Louisiana State Police unit whose troopers stunned, punched and dragged Ronald Greene on video during a deadly 2019 arrest is now under internal investigation by a secret panel over whether its officers are systematically targeting Black motorists for abuse, reports the Associated Press.

The panel, whose existence was confirmed to the Associated Press by four people familiar with it, was set up in response to Greene’s death as well as three other violent stops of Black men: one who was punched, stunned and hoisted to his feet by his hair braids in a body-camera video obtained by the AP, another who was beaten after he was handcuffed, and yet another who was slammed 18 times with a flashlight.

June 30

Black American girl wins national spelling bee

A Black girl from Louisiana has won the national spelling bee, reports ABC News. Zaila Avant-garde understood the significance of what she was doing as she stood on the Scripps National Spelling Bee stage, peppering pronouncer Jacques Bailly with questions about Greek and Latin roots.

July 12

She’s not just the spelling bee champ

This year’s spelling bee champ, Zaila Avant-garde, is a 14-year-old from Harvey, Louisiana. She made history last Thursday when she became the first African American winner and the second Black champion in the Scripps National Spelling Bee’s 96-year history. But that may not even be the most interesting thing about the teen.

Zaila knows how to speed-read and discovered that she could divide five-digit numbers by two-digit numbers in her head, reports the New York Times.

But Zaila isn’t just a brainiac. She’s also a baller, adds the Huffington Post.

The talented basketball player has set three Guinness World Records: one for the most basketballs dribbled simultaneously (six basketballs for 30 seconds); the most basketballs bounces (307 bounces in 30 seconds); and the most bounce juggles in one minute (255 using four basketballs). She’s also got some serious pogo stick skills.

Sept. 24 

Former Louisiana trooper charged in beating of Black motorist

An ex-Louisiana State Police trooper was charged with violating the civil rights of a Black motorist by pounding him 18 times with a tactical flashlight during a traffic stop, reports NBC News.

The grand jury indictment of Jacob Brown in the assault on Aaron Larry Bowman in 2019 was the first criminal case to emerge from the federal investigation into the beatings of several Black motorists by members of a mostly White State Police unit known as Troop F.

Oct. 14 

Black Army officer says she was denied entry at New Orleans casino

A Black Army second lieutenant said she was discriminated against at a New Orleans casino when an employee denied her entry by claiming she wasn’t the person pictured on her military identification, reports NBC News.

The officer, Deja Harrison, documented part of the encounter in a video she posted on her Twitter page.

Maine

April 16

Man in Maine arrested for setting fire to Black church

A Bulgarian national who was arrested Thursday faces hate crime offenses for setting several fires at a predominantly Black church in Springfield, Massachusetts, last year, reports ABC News.

Dushko Vulchev, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Maine, demonstrated a “hatred of Black people,” federal prosecutors said as they charged him with damage to religious property and use of fire to commit a federal felony. The criminal complaint quoted a December 2020 message Vulchev allegedly wrote calling to “eliminate all N—s.” An electronic device contained images that prosecutors said demonstrated Vulchev’s racial animus toward Black people.

The arson Vulchev is accused of setting on Dec. 28, 2020, caused extensive damage to the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield.

Prosecutors said Vulchev is also responsible for several other fires set on church property and for a series of tire slashings on church property and in the surrounding area.

Maryland 

Jan. 19

Black Maryland teen rides to Junior Bullriding championship

Thirteen-year-old Nicholas Jackson made history after becoming the new 2020 Junior Bull Riding Champion at the Junior World Bull Riding Finals in Texas. The win makes the teenager the first champion from the state of Maryland and the Northeast region. Jackson comes from a long line of cowboys on his mother’s side of the family.

April 21 

Harriett Tubman’s family home found in refuge in Maryland

Last fall a team of archeologists dug hundreds of small holes in a marshy, forested and buggy area of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. But there were no obvious signs of the historical site they’d set out to unearth. Frustrated, Julie Schablitsky, the chief archeologist at the Maryland Department of Transportation, grabbed a metal detector and began scanning an area along an old road. 

“I got this beep, beep, beep,” she recalled, expecting it to be just another buried shotgun shell. “I dug, and what came up was this coin.” 

Not just any coin. It was a 50-cent Liberty coin, dated 1808 ? the year that American abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s parents, Benjamin and Harriet Greene Ross, were married and started a family in this remote area along Maryland’s shore, reports the Huffington Post. It’s also the year that the U.S. officially banned the importing of humans who would be forced into chattel slavery.

The coin ultimately led Schablitsky’s team to what they’ve concluded are the remnants of a cabin and homesite that Tubman’s father owned. It is where Tubman spent part of her childhood before she escaped and became a conductor on the Underground Railroad. 

May 10   

Maryland governor pardons 34 victims of racial lynching

Maryland’s governor on Saturday posthumously pardoned 34 victims of racial lynching in the state dating between 1854 and 1933, saying they were denied legal due process against the allegations they faced.

It was a first-of-its-kind pardon by a governor of a U.S. state.

Gov. Gary Hogan signed the order at an event honoring Howard Cooper, a 15-year-old who was dragged from a jailhouse and hanged from a tree by a mob of White men in 1885 before his attorneys could file an appeal of a rape conviction that an all-White jury reached within minutes.

Sept. 23 

Al Roker donates 1,400 laptops to high school

Longtime “Today Show” meteorologist Al Roker surprised Digital Harbor High School Principal Taiisha Swinton-Buck and her students with 1,400 laptops and a year’s worth of free Internet.

Roker and Comcast worked together to surprise Swinton-Buck after she was named Maryland’s Principal of the Year. Swinton-Buck led Digital Harbor High School to “record-setting” attendance and grade-point averages, reports BIN News.

“It means everything to us,” Swinton-Buck said. “At Digital Harbor High School, we’re focused on technology. Computers kept us connected during the COVID closures, and so we’re so happy that we can continue on-trend. We’re going to stay focused!”

Massachusetts

Jan. 5

First Black woman hired as coach in MLB

Bianca Smith made baseball history, reports the New York Post. Major League Baseball’s Red Sox hired Smith as a minor league coach. MLB confirmed to the Boston Globe that Smith is the first Black woman ever to coach baseball at the professional level.

Jan. 13

Boston set to have first woman and first Black mayor

Boston City Council President Kim Janey is poised to become the first Black and first female mayor of Boston, after word came that Mayor Marty Walsh is President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for labor secretary, reports WBUR. Janey was elected to the city council in 2017 and represents Roxbury and parts of the South End, Dorchester and Fenway. She was chosen as the city council president last year.

Jan. 25

Morgan State offers Amanda Gorman a job

During last Wednesday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, history was made in more ways than one. 

Amanda Gorman became the youngest person to recite a poem at the presidential ceremonies, and since her exceptional performance, many have their eyes glued to the 22-year-old author.

After she recited her original poem, “The Hill We Climb,” social media buzzed with affection for her words, delivery, and Prada headband, reports the Baltimore Sun. Gorman specifically caught the eye of Morgan State University President David Wilson, who used Twitter to offer her a job.

“Ms. Gorman, I need you as our Poet-in-Residence at the National Treasure,” Wilson tweeted, tagging Gorman. “Consider this a job offer!”

Feb. 4

First Black NHL player honored by Bruins

Some 60 years after taking his last shift as a Boston winger, Willie O’Ree next month will hoist his No. 22 to the Garden rafters, making him only the 12th Bruins player in nearly a century to have his number retired to hallowed heights, reports the Boston Globe.

O’Ree, 85, was home in San Diego when Bruins president Cam Neely called him with the unexpected news.

Author and racial justice activist Cornel West said Harvard University denied his request to be considered for tenure, calling the school’s decision “political” in tweets published early Friday morning, reports the Huffington Post. 

“After being tenured at Yale, Harvard, Princeton & Union Theological Seminary, the recent Harvard denial of a tenure process strikes me as a political decision I reject,” the prominent social critic tweeted. 

West, a professor of the practice of public philosophy, with a joint appointment between the Harvard Divinity School and the department of African and African American studies, also suggested in an earlier tweet that the school’s decision was influenced by his outspoken criticisms of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

“Nothing stands in the way of my profound love for and solidarity with oppressed peoples wherever they are!!” he added.

West has indicated that he has considered leaving the Ivy League school over the situation, according to the Boston Globe.

March 16

Catholic group set to offer $100 million in reparations 

In one of the largest efforts by an institution to atone for slavery, a prominent order of Catholic priests has vowed to raise $100 million to benefit the descendants of the enslaved people it once owned and to promote racial reconciliation initiatives across the United States, reports the New York Times.

The move by the leaders of the Jesuit conference of priests represents the largest effort by the Roman Catholic Church to make amends for the buying, selling and enslavement of Black people, church officials and historians said.

March 18

Lebron James acquires part of Boston Red Sox

NBA star Lebron James joined Fenway Sports Group, making him part owner of the Boston Red Sox, reported ESPN Tuesday. 

James becomes a minority owner in a franchise valued at more than $3 billion, reports CNBC. James’ agent Rich Paul confirmed the ownership stake to CNBC. The Boston Globe notes that James and business partner Maverick Carter are the first two Black owners within FSG. The firm itself is valued at more than $6 billion, according to Forbes.

April 20 

White supremacist charged with hate crime after trying to run over Black children

A suspected White supremacist has been arrested and charged with hate crimes for allegedly trying to run over two Black children with a pickup truck in Massachusetts, reports EUR Web.

Despite the serious and violent charges that specifically cite the race of the children allegedly targeted by Shane Belleville, the 36-year-old was released from prison after posting a bond of just $750 in the town of Holbrook, which is about 18 miles south of Boston.

June 28 

Retired Black Air Force officer, Black cop killed in possible hate crime

A man allegedly rammed a stolen truck into a house before fatally shooting a retired Black Massachusetts state trooper and a Black Air Force veteran Saturday, according to police, reports ABC News. Authorities said they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

The suspect was later killed by police when they tried to apprehend him, investigators said.

Coricka White becomes first Black woman to run Domino Sugar Factory

The Domino Sugar factory in Baltimore is at the center of Black history in the making, thanks to the hiring of Coricka White, reports the Baltimore Sun.

White is the first Black woman in history to be named the refinery manager. In the nearly 100 years since the factory has been part of the Baltimore skyline — with the Domino Sugar sign being the center point of the city — it has never had a Black woman leading the workers.. 

July 15 

Dr. Cornel West slams Harvard in resignation letter

Cornel West, the eccentric professor, public intellectual and progressive activist, resigned from Harvard after a tenure dispute and accused the university of “spiritual rot” in a letter posted to his Twitter on Monday.

“How sad it is to see our beloved Harvard Divinity School in such decline and decay,” he wrote in the letter. “The disarray of a scattered curriculum, the disenchantment of talented yet deferential faculty, and the disorientation of precious students loom large.”

His resignation comes after he said Harvard denied him an opportunity to receive tenure, the indefinite academic appointment that makes it extremely difficult to remove professors.

Michigan

Jan. 7

Black owned cigar shop, hookah lounge opens in Detroit

Detroit is now home to its first Black-owned cig shop and hookah lounge thanks to Lance McGhee, reports the Michigan Chronicle.

McGhee is the founder and CEO of Storm Cigar and Hookah Lounge, a luxury cigar and hookah shop in Wyoming, which recently opened.

Feb. 5

First Black woman to earn degree in nuclear engineering from UM

At only 27 years old, Ciara Sivels is the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan, reports Blavity.com.

March 26

Woman becomes first Black woman to own Outback Steakhouse

Gretta Jackson just became the first Black woman to own an Outback Steakhouse restaurant, reports WXYZ and Afro-Tech. As a Detroit native, Jackson is making her city proud with her new business venture.

“My roots definitely run deep in Detroit, 6 Mile and Davison. Raised by my grandparents, raised in the church, and raised in love,” Jackson said. “Went to Detroit Public Schools and graduated from Detroit Northern in 1993.”

Now she hopes that her story can inspire other young women to pursue their dreams.

“Literally 19 years in the making, no shortcuts, nothing was given to me. I literally worked my way through every position, came up in the ranks,” Jackson said. “When you’re so focused on you and what you’re trying to do, you don’t always take the time to realize or understand how it’s going to affect other people. And I did not and could not have imagined the impact that my success or my own personal success would have on others.”

Today, Jackson is a ceiling smasher as the first Black woman to own an Outback Steakhouse serving as the managing partner of Outback in Roseville. Mich.

Aug. 9

Black real estate agent and Black Army vet get cuffed while touring house

As a police officer turned Roy Thorne around to cuff his hands behind his back, the 45-year-old father saw the same happening to his 15-year-old son, reports the Washington Post.

Feelings came quickly then to Thorne, who’s Black: rage that his son was being arrested. Humiliation that the teenager had to watch his dad get handcuffed while the whole neighborhood looked on. Confusion about how viewing a house with his real estate agent on a Sunday afternoon could lead to a half-dozen police officers pointing guns at them.

But more than anything: powerlessness. Thorne could do nothing other than obey in a desperate attempt not to die.

“I just felt defeated,” he told the Washington Post. “That’s something you never want your kid to see.”

Thorne and his son were touring a home Sunday with real estate agent Eric Brown, who’s also Black, in Wyoming, Mich., when police suddenly surrounded the house with guns drawn. The officers were responding to a neighbor’s 911 call about a break in. They ordered the three out of the house, handcuffed them and put them in separate vehicles.

Aug. 18

Man sentenced for attacking Black neighbor’s home in Michigan

A White neighbor who shot at a Black family’s Michigan home, slashed tires on a vehicle and wrote racist graffiti on a pickup truck, told a judge Monday that he did it because of a Black Lives Matter sign in the window, reports ABC News.

Michael Frederick Jr. said during his sentencing in Macomb County Circuit Court that his actions weren’t an attack on Eddie and Candace Hall “personally.”

“I targeted these people because I didn’t like their political sign that they had in the window,” he said. “I think you guys are some great people and didn’t deserve this at all.”

Frederick, 25, was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison, according to the Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens.

Sept. 17 

Michigan father sues after teacher cuts biracial daughter’s hair

The father of a 7-year-old Michigan whose hair was cut by a teacher without her parents’ permission has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the school district, a librarian and a teacher’s assistant, reports the Associated Press.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Grand Rapids against Mount Pleasant Public Schools. It alleges that the biracial girl’s constitutional rights were violated, racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery.

Sept. 29

Former NBA star Chris Webber building $50 million cannabis facility in Detroit

NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber has announced a step toward achieving not only his dreams but those of his community as well, reports Afro Tech.

In an effort to ensure minorities will not be left out of the cannabis industry, the entrepreneur has announced the launch of the Players Only Holdings — co-founded with entrepreneur Lavetta Willis — which will bring a $50 million cannabis operation and training facility to Detroit, MI.

“To be able to bring this to Detroit is the most special thing because I waited,” said Webber in a press statement to CBS Sports. “I waited until I really learned the industry; we’ve been in here a while. I waited to try and see what the right landscape was, and all of that studying and preparation and patience really makes me feel like I just can’t wait to hit this here, and the people are going to make it a home run.”

WebberWild partnered with Cookies U to create cannabis-led initiatives is news follows just five months after Webber’s nonprofit We to provide educational resources and empower people of color in the cannabis industry. Students are recruited for a three-month curriculum to share resources on how future cannabis leaders can succeed in the industry.

Oct. 6

Detroit honors Aretha Franklin by naming post office after her

Aretha Franklin was given a bit of posthumous R-E-S-P-E-C-T on Monday when a post office in her hometown of Detroit was named after the late singer, reports the Associated Press.

Members of Franklin’s family as well as postal and elected officials visited the former Fox Creek post office to celebrate the name change, honoring the Queen of Soul.

The post office is located about five miles east of downtown and not far from a concert amphitheater on the Detroit River that also is named for Franklin. It now will be known as the “Aretha Franklin Post Office Building.”

Oct. 11 

Black real estate agent, client file lawsuit after being handcuffed

A Black father, his son and their Black real estate agent have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Wyoming, Michigan, the Wyoming police chief and six police officers after they were ordered by police officers out of the home they were touring and handcuffed, reports CNN

The real estate agent, Eric Brown, was showing a home to his client, Roy Thorne, and his 15-year-old son, Samuel, on August 1, when police, responding to a neighbor’s call, showed up at the house, ordered those inside to leave with their hands in the air and handcuffed them. They were all released soon after.

The lawsuit, filed October 1 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, seeks unspecified damages on five counts, claiming six police officers violated the plaintiffs’ civil rights, including unlawful detainment and excessive force, as well as violations of equal protection. Other counts include assault and battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The city of Wyoming, the six officers involved, and the police chief are all named as defendants.

Nov. 8

Former Michigan theater to become Black-owned movie studio

Construction is underway for what owners say is the first Black-owned television and movie studio in Michigan, reports the Associated Press.

Standup comedian and director turned entrepreneur, Amaru, who only goes by one name, said it was a combination of events with the death of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic that inspired him to open Greenwood District Studios.

“How can I bring back my job and give others some jobs?” Amaru said. “Hope was the number one thing that came up and doing away with the despair that’s happening around, especially with our youth.”

Nov. 18

Michigan State’s Mel Tucker reportedly to become highest paid Black coach in sports

Michigan State University (MSU) and Head Football Coach Mel Tucker is reportedly closing in on a groundbreaking deal, a deal that would not only make him the highest-paid Big Ten football coach but also cement Mel Tucker as the highest paid Black head coach in sports, reports Afro Tech.

Tucker is currently in his second year of a contract signed with MSU back in February of 2020, where he is earning $5.56 million per year. Despite being in the early stages of the agreement, the new negotiations follow after Tucker’s name has been in the basket for a slew of coaching vacancies at other institutions. Most recently a position at Louisiana State University, which would become available by the end of this season as current head coach Ed Orgeron’s contract has been terminated for undisclosed reasons. 

Michigan State seems to be making it clear that they want Tucker for the long term with a reported deal that will grant the Cleveland native $95 million over 10 years, according to an undisclosed source who has close ties with the negotiations, the Detroit News reported.

Minnesota

April 13 

Daunte Wright stopped for expired plates, cost him his life

The chain of events that ended with yet another fatal police shooting of a Black man in Minnesota began in what has become a typical tragedy — with a traffic stop for a minor infraction.

The man, Daunte Wright, 20, who died Sunday after a run-in with police in a suburb of Minneapolis, was driving an SUV with expired license plates, and he also ran afoul of a Minnesota law that prohibits motorists from hanging air fresheners and other items from their rearview mirrors.

Gannon said Monday that he believes the officer meant to pull a Taser in Sunday’s shooting but instead pulled her service weapon.

May 17

Minneapolis suburb approves changes to policing after death of Daunte Wright

The Minneapolis suburb where police recently killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright has approved a package of proposals meant to begin making changes to public safety and violence prevention in the city.

The Brooklyn Center City Council voted 4-1 on Saturday to pass a resolution called the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety & Violence Prevention Act. Mayor Mike Elliott introduced the resolution last week, naming it after two men who abruptly died at the hands of police ? one of whom was killed just last month.

May 24 

St. Paul officer who let police dog maul Black man gets six years in prison

A federal judge sentenced a former St. Paul police officer Friday to six years in prison for kicking a suspect and allowing a police dog to maul him, according to the Associated Press.

Brett Palkowitsch, 33, apologized through tears during the sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright, Minnesota Public Radio reported. He said he would be willing to put himself in front of future officers to make sure “they know right from wrong, and how quick it can happen, and make sure it never happens again.”

A federal jury in 2019 found Palkowitsch, who is White, guilty of kicking Frank Baker, a Black man, and letting a police dog maul him in 2016 after Baker was mistaken for a robbery suspect. Baker suffered seven broken ribs and collapsed lungs.

Baker said he forgives Palkowitsch but wouldn’t accept his apology. He said he still has trouble breathing.

July 12 

Minnesota attorney general asks judge to acknowledge trauma of girls who witnessed George Floyd murder

The lead prosecutor in the case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison for murdering George Floyd, has asked the judge to modify his sentencing memo “to prevent potentially causing further harm by discounting the trauma suffered by” the four girls who witnessed Floyd’s murder, reports NBC News. Two of the girls are Black.

In a letter dated last week, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison wrote that “”the State respectfully requests that the Court remove the suggestion that, because the children in this case were not forcibly held at the scene or otherwise prevented from leaving, an aggravating factor should not apply.”

“The State is deeply worried about the message sent by suggesting that instead of attempting to intervene in order to stop a crime — which children did in this case — children should simply walk away and ignore their moral compasses,” Ellison wrote. “Children should never be put in this position.”

Aug. 18

Home Depot allegedly discriminated against worker for wearing BLM shirt

An official with the National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against Home Depot alleging that the retailer discriminated against a Minneapolis employee for his Black Lives Matter activism at work, reports the Huffington Post.

The filing from an NLRB regional director claims the company used its uniform policy to “selectively and disparately” punish workers who had the initials “BLM” on their Home Depot aprons. 

One worker was allegedly told to choose between wearing the slogan and having a job at the store. That worker was suspended and then terminated, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges that management threatened workers with “unspecified consequences” over their Black Lives Matter activism during an online work meeting in February.

Oct. 12 

Parents file lawsuit claiming students were beaten and spit on by White classmates

A group of parents is suing a Minnesota school system alleging that their Black children faced racist bullying and discrimination from students and staff, including racist slurs and physical attacks. One teacher allegedly cut off a student’s dreadlock and threw it in the trash, the parents say, reports NBCBLK.

Kali Proctor, Katelyn Hansen, Roynetter Birgans and Desmond Gilbert are seeking monetary compensation and demanding systemic changes at Duluth Edison Charter Schools for the experiences their elementary and middle school-age children endured. 

The suit, filed in April 2019, details a culture of racism at the school’s Raleigh and North Star Academy campuses and school officials’ refusal to address it.

Mississippi

June 11 

Morgan Freeman, professor donate $1 million for police reform center

Actor Morgan Freeman and a criminal justice professor at the University of Mississippi are donating $1 million to the university to establish a Center for Evidence-Based Policing and Reform, the university announced Tuesday, reports USA Today.

The center, created with the donation from Freeman and Professor Linda Keena, will be the only one of its kind in Mississippi and one of only a few in the nation.

Sept. 10 

Lawsuit claims farms hired White immigrants over Black laborers

Six Black farmworkers in Mississippi say in a new lawsuit that their former employer brought White laborers from South Africa to do the same jobs they were doing, and that the farm has been violating federal law by paying the White immigrants more for the same type of work, reports the Associated Press.

Mississippi Center for Justice and Southern Migrant Legal Services filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of the six workers against Pitts Farm Partnership, which grows cotton, soybeans and corn in the Mississippi Delta’s Sunflower County.

The lawsuit said the farm violated regulations of a foreign worker visa program, which requires equal treatment of U.S. workers and their immigrant counterparts. It seeks an unspecified amount in damages, including money the U.S. workers say they were shorted because of the uneven pay scale.

Missouri

March 16

Missouri hires Black woman to be ‘face of tourism’ although NAACP issues travel advisory for state

Missouri has cast a Black woman as the face of a new tourism campaign four years after the NAACP issued a travel advisory urging Black people to take caution when visiting the state because of discrimination concerns, reports NBC News.

The Missouri Division of Tourism has introduced “Mo,” a smiling Black woman, in a campaign full of photos, videos and even games. The division’s director, Stephen Foutes, said in a press release that Mo represents “Missouri and everything we have to offer visitors in our state.”

April 8 

Black woman elected St. Louis mayor

St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, who has been outspoken in her criticism of the criminal justice system’s “arrest and incarcerate” model, won the St. Louis mayoral election Tuesday and will take over as the first Black female mayor in a city beset by yet another wave of violent crime, reports NBC News.

Jones defeated Alderwoman Cara Spencer in the general election with 51.7 percent to Spencer’s 47.8 percent, based on unofficial results posted on the city’s website. She will be sworn in April 20.

Jones has pledged to bring in more social workers, mental health counselors and substance abuse counselors, rather than adding more officers.

May 14

Edward Jones ordered to pay $34 million to Black employees

St. Louis-based financial services firm Edward Jones has been ordered by a federal judge to pay a $34 million settlement for bias claims by Black financial advisers, Reuters first reported.

The firm is known for serving individual investors and boasts more than 19,000 financial advisers. This settlement comes after Stowell & Friedman filed a class-action lawsuit in 2018 on behalf of roughly 800 Black financial advisers. The official complaint was “race discrimination,” states a court filing that names Wayne Bland as the main plaintiff in the class action case. The Black financial advisers accused Edward Jones of assigning them to less lucrative work, denying them working with certain high-level client accounts, and depriving them of advancement opportunities.

June 18 

Gun waving couple pleads guilty to misdemeanor assault charges

A St. Louis couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators last year pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor charges and agreed to give up the weapons they used during the confrontation, reports the Associated Press.

Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was fined $2,000. Her husband, Mark McCloskey, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault and was fined $750.

June 22

One of two cops convicted in Civil Rights case 

A former St. Louis police officer has been convicted of a civil rights violation for beating a Black undercover officer during protests in 2017, but the jury could not reach a verdict against a second former officer, reports ABC News.

July 7

Teacher fired for calling MLK Day ‘Black privilege day’

A school board in Missouri has fired a tenured science teacher after he allegedly used racial slurs and referred to Martin Luther King Jr. Day as “Black Privilege Day” during his classes, reports Newsweek.

The Harrisonville School Board voted to fire John Magoffin during a closed session last week after an investigation by the school’s principal found incidents that allegedly occurred in three different classes: AP biology, physics and advisory.

New Jersey

Oct. 11

Library receives grant to create Atlantic City Black history

The Atlantic City Free Public Library’s extensive archival collections related to African American history will soon become easier for the public to explore and utilize, reports DownBeach.com. The library received a grant of $128,826 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to implement “The City of Dreams: the Atlantic City Experience” project.

The project will be the first stage in creating “The Atlantic City Experience Research Library Digital Repository” to provide a new level of online access to the library’s extensive Atlantic City Heritage Collections. The online repository will make available those collections by digitizing, cataloging and placing text, audio and video content on an Internet platform for unlimited access.

Nov. 15

New Jersey school renamed to honor Tuskegee airman

The bravery and resilience the Tuskegee Airmen embodied during World War II will reverberate for generations to come, and one of the members of the troop recently received a posthumous honor in recognition of his service. Malcolm E. Nettingham’s former school, Park Middle School, was renamed after him to pay homage to his legacy, reports My Central Jersey last Thursday.

The Scotch Plains, New Jersey-based middle school, changed its moniker not only to honor the sacrifices Nettingham made while serving but to illuminate his impact and influence within the local community. 

New York

Jan. 14

NY attorney general suing NYPD over civil rights violations

New York state Attorney General Letitia James is suing the city of New York, the mayor and the police department’s leaders, alleging that officers had committed civil rights abuses for years, including at protests last summer over the death of George Floyd, and is seeking an independent monitor, reports NBC News.

The “landmark lawsuit” filed in the Southern District of New York names Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terence Monahan as defendants and outlines years of excessive force and false arrests, most recently during racial justice protests last year stemming from the killing of Floyd, a Black man, while in Minneapolis police custody, James said.

March 26 

Black teen’s family sues woman, hotel over accusations of stolen phone

The parents of a Black teenager who was attacked at a New York City hotel after a woman falsely accused him of stealing her cell phone filed a lawsuit Wednesday over the incident, reports NBC News.

The suit was filed in state court in Manhattan against Miya Ponsetto, the Arlo SoHo hotel and a hotel manager.

Keyon Harrold Jr., who was 14 at the time, was in the lobby of the Arlo SoHo in December with his father, the jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold, when Ponsetto accused him of stealing her iPhone. Ponsetto had left the phone in an Uber vehicle, and it was eventually returned to her.

March 30

Traveling Black woman’s library finds a home

In its early days in 2015, the Free Black Women’s could be found on the steps of a Brooklyn brownstone, reports NBC News. OlaRonke Akinmowo would lug at least 100 books by Black women authors to a stoop and invite community members to trade a book by a Black woman author.

It was a simple community-building, social art project then, but Akinmowo dreamed that one day this library would have a permanent home — both in a building and on wheels. Nearly six years later, that dream will finally become a reality. A GoFundMe campaign for the project raised more than $100,000 in just two months.

“I was humbled and blown away and surprised,” she said. “I was feeling really affirmed, like, ‘People really believe in this project and think it’s a good idea!’ I want to make people proud. The fact that I was able to raise it in such a short amount of time is something I’m super grateful for.”

April 15

Court vindicates Black policewoman fired after she stopped fellow officer choking suspect

It was a cold November day in Buffalo when Officer Cariol Horne responded to a call for a colleague in need of help. What she encountered was a White officer who appeared to be “in a rage” punching a handcuffed Black man in the face repeatedly as other officers stood by.

According to the New York Times, Officer Horne, who is Black, heard the handcuffed man say he could not breathe and saw the White officer put him in a chokehold. At that point, court documents show, she forcibly removed the White officer and began to trade blows with him.

April 19

Black-owned tech company offers video game to help Black girls embrace their beauty

Jupiter Leo Productions, a Bronx-based company that was founded in 2007 and specializes in providing STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs to New York City schools, has announced that it’s developed an app for both Apple and Android users, reports Afro Tech.

In addition to teaching Black children how to celebrate their natural beauty, the Sista Salon app will teach them important business and life skills.

The app teaches players how to style hair in natural Black styles, including cornrows, locs and Afros. Additionally, the background music is a combination of Hip Hop and R&B, and Caribbean and traditional African rhythms, the customers wear African-inspired clothing patterns, and players collect “Africa coins” when they serve customers. 

The Sista Salon app falls in line with Jupiter Leo’s mission statement: “We have a passion for teaching and empowering people to develop creative solutions for the community. Every person deserves the opportunity to learn a new skill and we aspire to have our programs be a part of the solution,” says the company. “We are a social enterprise that believes innovative and holistic methods are best suited to build generational wealth.”

April 19

Dad mad after teacher cuts biracial daughter’s hair

A Michigan father has moved his 7-year-old biracial daughter from one school to another after the child’s hair was cut on separate occasions by a classmate and a teacher, reports the Associated Press. 

Jimmy Hoffmeyer said Monday he also is considering taking his daughter, Jurnee, out of Mount Pleasant Public Schools and enrolling her in a private school. 

Hoffmeyer says that on March 24, Jurnee arrived home with much of the hair on one side missing, cut by a classmate on the school bus. Two days later — after complaining to the principal and having Jurnee’s hair styled with an asymmetrical cut to make the differing lengths less obvious — she arrived home with the hair on the other side cut by a teacher who tried to “to even it out.”

April 28

New York Post reporter resigns, claims she was ‘ordered’ to write false story about VP Kamala Harris

A New York Post reporter said she had resigned after being ordered to write a false story that claimed migrant children were being given copies of a book authored by Vice President Kamala Harris in “welcome kits,” reports the Huffington Post.

The reporter, Laura Italiano, announced her resignation on Twitter.

According to the Washington Post, Italiano’s been writing for the New York tabloid since the 1990s. The article, which was published both online and in print, featured the front-page headline “Kam On In” in the print edition. The tabloid used a Reuters image of Harris’ book, “Superheroes Are Everywhere,” on a cot at a migrant shelter to suggest that the vice president’s work was being distributed en masse to undocumented kids.

In reality, Harris’ book was one of hundreds donated as part of a citywide book and toy drive, a spokesperson for the city of Long Beach told the Washington Post.

May 4 

10-year-old becomes Chess Master

A 10-year-old Nigerian-American is now a U.S. Chess Master, reports Afro Tech.

Things could have gone many ways for the 10-year-old Nigerian-American. While his family was living and thriving in Nigeria, they were threatened with violence from the Boko Haram terrorists. The threat of violence forced the Adewumi family to flee from Nigeria in 2017, according to NPR.

A kind pastor in Queens provided them temporary housing, but ultimately referred the family to the N.Y. Department of Housing Services, where they were referred to a homeless shelter. To make ends meet, Tanituola’s father took a job as an Uber driver and a dishwasher, while his mother took a job as a housekeeper.

The 10-year-old Nigerian-American enrolled in the nearby P.S. 116 school, where a coach by the name of Shawn Martinez immediately showed him how to play chess. 

May 7

New York’s attorney general going after right wing operatives to pay for Black voter targeted robocalls

New York Attorney Letitia James wants two right-wing provocateurs to pay up to $2.7 million in penalties for thousands of robocalls allegedly aimed at suppressing the Black vote ahead of the 2020 election, reports NBC News.

James said Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman “used misinformation to try to disenfranchise Black communities ahead of the election, in a clear attempt to sway the election in the favor of their preferred presidential candidate.”

June 1

Mary J. Blige inducted into Apollo Walk of Fame

Mary J. Blige is now an Apollo Legend. The nine-time Grammy-winning singer and music icon celebrated her induction into the historic theater’s Walk of Fame on Friday in New York City, reports the Huffington Post.

“None of this is possible without the fans, so thank you to all the fans,” she said during Friday’s event in Harlem.

African American veterans monument coming to Buffalo park

Veterans point out, there are monuments, even entire museums, dedicated to the contributions of African Americans in this country’s fight for freedom.

But founders of Buffalo’s African American Veterans Monument say this is the first testament to their taking part in all of America’s wars, reports WIVB.com.

This was the first Naval and Military Park Memorial Day service recognizing the African American Veterans Monument.

June 21 

Jay Z suing Damon Dash

Jay Z is suing his former Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder, Damian Dash, reports Afro Tech.

Jay Z’s attorneys are accusing Dash of trying to sell his debut album “Reasonable Doubt” as a non-fungible token (NFT), a new form of currency that’s making waves on the art market. They allege that he is attempting to do so without Jay-Z’s permission.

July 2 

Woman charged with hate crime after falsely accusing Black teen of phone theft

The woman who falsely accused a Black teen of stealing her phone in a New York City hotel in December was arraigned Wednesday on a hate crime, reports NBC News.

Miya Ponsetto, who lives in California, was seen in a viral video lunging at, tackling and shouting that the 14-year-old son of jazz musician Keyon Harrold had stolen her iPhone. The incident took place Dec. 26 in the lobby of Arlo Soho, an upscale, boutique hotel where Harrold and his son, Keyon Harrold Jr., were guests. It was later found that Ponsetto left her phone in an Uber vehicle, and the driver eventually returned it to her.

Earlier this year, she was charged with attempted robbery, grand larceny, acting in a manner injurious to a child and two counts of attempted assault.

On Wednesday, Ponsetto was indicted by a New York County grand jury on two counts of unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment, and endangering the welfare of a child. She pleaded not guilty.

First Black girl duo wins international debate competition at Harlem

For the first time in the history of the Harvard Debate Council, two Black girls from Atlanta have made history as the first Black female duo to win the annual summer debate competition at Harvard University, reports Black Enterprise.

Students from the Harvard Debate Council’s program are pretty much unstoppable and for the fourth year in a row have left the competition in the dust and taken the top prize

August 2 

Snoop Dogg featured in New York Times

Thirty years ago, Snoop Dogg came on the scene as a rapper, and a profane one at that. Today, he is more than that and even considered an icon, says the New York Times, which printed an extensive feature on him last weekend. 

The article points out that Snoop has developed into a TV personality, with his own game show on TBS and as a co-host with another American icon, Martha Stewart. Snoop jokes about going to jail in his past for marijuana possession and how now products have been developed from it and it is a big time commercial venture. 

He also talks about Black wealth and how he is happy to see more investments taking place in minority-owned start-ups. 

Aug. 5 

Harlem street to be co-named after jazz photo

On a Tuesday in August 1958, an impossibly stacked lineup of some of the world’s foremost jazz musicians gathered on a brownstone-lined block in Harlem to pose for a photograph, reports Patch.com.

Charles Mingus stood on the stoop. Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams and Dizzy Gillespie posed on the sidewalk. Count Basie sat on the curb, joined by some local kids.

The man behind the camera was Art Kane, a 33-year-old freelance photographer on assignment from Esquire magazine, where it was published a few months later.

All told, 57 musicians made it into the shot, which became legendary in the ensuing decades for the talent contained within it. Known as “A Great Day in Harlem,” or alternately, “Harlem 1958,” it even became the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary in 1994.

Now, on the 63rd anniversary of “Harlem 1958,” the quiet block of East 126th Street where it was taken will be co-named in honor of the image and the photographer.

August 6 

Black homeowners in New York City fight program that allows property seizures for unpaid utilities

Sherlivia Thomas-Murchison’s mother worked for nearly 25 years to make sure her family had a permanent home in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, reports NBCBLK.

The home of her mother, Margaret Blow, was in a co-op building, where Thomas-Murchison was a shareholder, on Madison Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Thomas-Murchison owned her apartment, as well as an apartment she and her siblings inherited after their mother died.

But in 2018, she learned that the city had signed the building’s deed over to a partnering developer. It meant she and her two children — like her neighbors in the eight-unit building — were without a home.

The transfer happened through a controversial citywide program called the Third Party Transfer program, or TPT, which experts who spoke to NBC News said has had an outsize effect on Black and Latino homeowners. Thomas-Murchison is one of three lead plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against New York City and its partnering developers, alleging that the program unfairly aided gentrification, is pushing out Black and Latino residents and has siphoned millions of dollars from families of color.

In June, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the suit could move forward after it was stalled by a lower court, Politics NY reported. 

Aug. 13

HBCU to offer full time students free tuition for 2021-2022 school year

NBC News via Afro Tech is reporting that small historically Black college Clinton Hill is offering all of its qualifying full-time students free tuition for the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year as well as free Microsoft Surface laptops. This comes after the school announced a commitment to slash tuition fees by 50 percent and also offer every student a new tablet to complete their assignments on.

Aug. 20 

Police caller must pay harassed BLM protesters $45,000 in reparations

A former ice cream shop owner accused of calling police on peaceful Black Lives Matters protesters was ordered to pay them $500 each by a judge for violating their civil rights, reports the Associated Press.

Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the former owner of Bumpy’s Polar Freeze in Schenectady was the first to rely in part on a new state law targeting false, race-based police reports.

The suit alleged that David Elmendorf wielded a baton and air rifle and shouted racial epithets at protesters who came to his business to protest after racist text messages he allegedly wrote circulated on social media.

Elmendorf also was accused of calling 911 to falsely report that armed protesters were threatening to shoot him, referring to Black protesters as “savages.”

Sept. 24

Metropolitan Opera opens season with first opera by Black composer

Charles Blow recalls being in the audience at the premiere of the opera based on his memoir, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” and watching the scene that depicts his sexual abuse as a

Nercrology

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya

Hank Aaron – 87 – Born Feb.  5, 1934. Died of natural causes  Jan. 22. Hall of Famer for MLB. Called “breaker of records and racial barriers.” 

Virgil Abloh – 41 – Born Sept. 30, 1980.  Died from cancer Nov. 28. Artistic director for Louis Vuitton and founder of Off-White. 

Harry Alford – 68 – Died Dec. 6. Co-founder of National Black Chamber. 

Baby CEO, aka Jonathan Brown – 20 –  Gunned down Jan. 19. Hip-hop artist.

Black Rob – 51 –  Born June 8, 1968. Died April 17 from kidney failure. Hip-hop artist. 

Timuel Black – 102 – Born Dec. 7, 1918, Died Oct. 13. Civil rights icon.

Adolfo “Shabbo Doo” Quinones – 65 – Born May 11, 1955. Jan. 5 from cardiovascular disease. Former breakdancing star.

Suzanne Douglas – 64 – Born April 12, 1957. Died July 8 from pancreatic cancer. Actress.

DMX – AKA Earl Simmons – 50 – Born Dec. 18, 1970. Died April 9 from a  cocaine-induced heart attack. Rapper, actor. 

Lee Elder – 87 – Born July 14, 1934. Died Nov. 28. First Black man to compete in Masters. 

Shock G – 57– Born August 25, 1963. Died April 22 of accidental overdose. Original member of Digital Underground.

Marvin Hagler – 66 – Born May 23, 1954. Died March 13. Former boxing champ.

Alcee Hastings – 84 – Born Sept. 5, 1936. Died April 6. Former U.S. Congressman.

Bell Hooks – 69 – September 25, 1952. Died Dec. 15. Author, poet, professor and social activist was born Gloria Jean Watkins.

Vernon Jordan – 85 –  Born August 15, 1935. Died March 1. Former president of the Urban League, adviser to President Bill Clinton. 

Yaphet Kotto – 81 – Born Nov. 15, 1939, died March 15. Actor,

Greg Leakes – 66 – Born Aug. 18, 1954. Died Sept. 1.  Businessman and husband to reality TV personality NeNe Leakes. 

Biz Markie – 57 – Born  April 8, 1964. Died July 16 from stroke and diabetes complications. Hip-hop artist.

Frank McCrae – 80 –  Born March 18, 1941. died April 29 from a heart attack. Action star, 

Carrie Meek – 95 – Born April 29, 1926. Died Nov. 28. Former Congresswoman from Florida. 

Matima “Swavy” Miller – 19 –  Gunned down July 5. TikTok star. 

Paul Mooney – 79 – Born Aug. 4, 1941. Died May 19. Comic, writer.

Kaycee Moore – 77 – Born February 24, 1944. Died Sept. 14. Black filmmaker. 

Robert Moses – 86 –  Born Jan. 23, 1935. Died July 25. Civil Rights activist. 

Jamillah “Jam” Muhammad – 51 – Died Sept. 15 following a battle with cancer. Radio programmer. 

Melvin Van Peebles – 89 – Born Aug. 21, 1932. Died Sept. 22. Groundbreaking filmmaker, playwright and musician. 

Betty Pleasant – 79 –  Died Nov. 30. Longtime Los Angeles journalist. 

Colin Powell – 84 –  Born April 5, 1937. Died Nov. 18. U.S. general, Secretary of State.

Quandra Prettyman – 88 – Born January 19, 1933. Died Oct. 21, 2021. First full time Black faculty member at Barnard College.

Charles Robinson – 76 – Born November 9, 1945. Died July 11. TV actor known for role in “Night Court.” 

Ruben Rodrigues – 68 – Born Sept. 7, 1953. Died Oct. 16. Motown promoter.

Malikah Shabazz – 56 – Born in 1965. Died Nov. 23. Daughter of Malcolm X.

Leon Spinks – 67 – Born July 11, 1953. Died Feb. 5 from prostate cancer. Former boxing champ.

Greg Tate – 64 –  Born October 14, 1957.  Died Dec. 8. Renowned music critic.

Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas – 70 – Born 1951. Died August 7. Founding member of Kool & the Gang. 

Desmond Tutu – 90 – Born Oct. 7, 1931, The Nobel laureate, archbishop and anti-apartheid hero who came to be known as South Africa’s moral conscience, died in Cape Town on Dec. 26, 2021 

Cicely Tyson – 96 – Born Dec. 19, 1924. Died January 28. Award-winning actress. 

Johnny Ventura – 81 – Born March 8, 1940. Died July 28. Merengue legend. 

Bunny Wailer – 73 – Born  April 10, 1947.  Died March 2. Last surviving member of Wailers, which featured Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

Reggie Warren – 52 –  Died March 14. Member of  singing group Troop. 

Michael K. Williams – 54 – Born Nov. 22, 1966.  died Sept. 6. Actor “The Wire.” 

Clarence Williams III – 81 – Born Aug. 21, 1939. Died June 4. Actor best remembered as Linc on “Mod Squad.” 

Mary Wilson – 76 – Born March 6, 1944. Died Feb. 8. Founding member of the Supremes. 

Ronnie Wilson – 73 – Died Nov. 2. Founding member of R&B group the Gap Band.

Samuel E. Wright – 74 – Born Nov. 20, 1946. Died May 24. Actor, voice of Sebastian in “Little Mermaid.”

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