As the nation prepares to bid farewell to the first African-American president in U.S. History, NewsOne has captured a few key moments from 2016, a year that made us cry, laugh, and rejoice in the greatness of being Black. Let’s take a look back at a few key cultural moments in 2016.
The Black Television Takeover
Issa Rae’s Insecure and Donald Glover’s Atlanta provided us with a guide to Black millennial life that was so desperately needed on television. Not only did it catapult the two creators to universal stardom, but launched the careers of several of their equally talented co-stars, including Yvonne Oriji and Jay Ellis from Insecure, and Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield and Zazie Beetz, Glover’s Atlanta co-stars.
Netflix’s The Get Down gave us an invigorating, historic ride through 1970s New York, emphasizing the beginning of hip-hop. Directed by Baz Luhrmann and executive produced by Nas, the series boasted great performances by cast members Jaden Smith, Justice Smith, Shameik Moore and Herizen Guardiola. The cast will gear up for part two, slated to premiere in 2017.
How ‘Bout The Knowles Sisters?
Beyoncé and younger sister Solange both had an amazing 2016. Their pro-Black opuses of self-empowerment and acceptance will forever be our soundtracks from 2016. Lemonade and A Seat At The Table were perfectly timed for the current climate, reminding us of the resiliency of the Black soul.
Beyoncé’s album focuses on restoration after infidelity, while Solange reflects on the innermost conflicts Blacks face growing up in America. Both sisters snagged 2017 Grammy nominations, solidifying what we already knew––the Knowles sisters are a force to be reckoned with.
Injustice For All
As police brutality remains a hot button issue, two cases came to tense resolutions in 2016. In July, Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby was forced to drop charges against the remaining three officers after the first three officers on trial were acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray.
And then in December, a jury declared a mistrial in the trial of Michael Slager, the officer accused of fatally shooting unarmed motorist Walter Scott. While the prosecutor vows to pull together resources to retry Slager, Black America was reminded again that the long road to justice is sometimes unfairly filled with thorns, twists, and turns.
The National Museum Of African American History And Culture
The unveiling of the nation’s first Smithsonian Museum dedicated to the contributions of African-Americans solidified the unwavering fact that Black Americans have made soaring contributions to this country. The formation of the museum, led by Congressman John Lewis, took over 10 years, but was finally opened on September 24, 2016 under the presidency of Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president.
BET Celebrates Barack Obama’s Legacy
BET’s “Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration” gave President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama the long-awaited opportunity to let their hair down and revel in their legacy and accomplishments. With musical selections from Jill Scott, Usher, Janelle Monae, The Roots, and Bell Biv Devoe, the celebration was soulful and emotional, emphasizing the end of a historic era.
Dave Chappelle’s Epic Return To Sketch Comedy
Dave Chappelle gave us just a taste of what he has in store for 2017 during his November appearance on Saturday Night Live. Beginning with his poignant cold-open that provided commentary on the political advance of Donald Trump just days after the 2016 election, Dave kept us on the edge of our seats. Who could forget how he resurrected several of his Chappelle Show characters in a spoof of The Walking Dead? With his SNL stint, Chappelle reminded us that he will forever have the juice.
Losing The Greats
This year, we lost several icons in the arena of music, sports, and media. Prince’s untimely death in April left a large void in the music world. His cannon of tunes will remain central to the vitalization of pop music as a whole.
When Muhammad Ali died in June, we were reminded of his undying efforts in the fight against White supremacy. The sports icon is heralded as the greatest athlete of the 20th century.
Gwen Ifill’s death in November was unexpected and shook the media world by storm. The long-time journalist and host of PBS’s Newshour was celebrated as the epitome of grace and class by numerous colleagues past and present.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in comments.