1. Barack Obama Becomes 1st Black President of The United StatesSource:Getty
It’s been over 10 years since our Forever President’s first inauguration yet we still get chills thinking about this iconic moment. What a statement it was to have a descendant of slaves become the leader of the free world. The Obama presidency was magical as it gave a sense of joy and accomplishment to those who had lived and fought through the pains of this country’s ugly past.
2. A Different World and HBCU PrideSource:Getty
A Different World wasn’t just a show about college students. It was a show that showcased positive images of young, Black students attending a historically Black college (HBCU). In addition to providing comic relief and an array beautiful Black faces, the show (thanks in part to director Debbie Allen) tackled tough issues from racism and colorism to sexism, ageism, and classism.
3. Formation Of The Black Lives Matter MovementSource:Getty
Eerily and dishearteningly similar to the Emmett Till case, Trayvon Martin was murdered and his killer was acquitted. This tragedy led to the establishment of The Black Lives Matter Movement. We like to think our ancestors would be happy to see a movement that, despite criticism, refuses to let the world ignore the historic brutal and deadly attacks on Black Americans.
4. Ryan Coogler Gave Us The Historic ‘Black Panther’Source:Getty
Because what didn’t ‘Black Panther’ do for the culture? The only downside, Wakanda, unfortunately, is not a real place. But still, #WakandaForever
5. Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ Breaks RecordsSource:Getty
Once again, let’s reflect. Slaves were not legally allowed to read or write, and now our first black FLOTUS has authored the top selling autobiography — EVER, selling more than 10 million copies! Furthermore, Michelle Obama’s 2018 memoir “Becoming” racked up a Grammy Award for best spoken word album.
6. Maya Angelou Pens ‘Phenomenal Woman’ & ‘Still I Rise’Source:Getty
Through her words, the late poet inspired people from different walks of life. Her poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’ has transcended races but remains a staple work within Black feminism. ‘Still I Rise’ continues to provide inspiration as the words “Bringing the gifts my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave” serve as a powerful reminder that African Americans are a strong, talented, and resilient people.
7. Oprah Winfrey Becomes 1st Black Person to Have A Syndicated Talk ShowSource:Getty
Don’t call her Auntie, but this TV icon and philanthropist has gone on to become the first African American woman billionaire giving back to the culture every step of the way. Through her financial generosity, she has impacted millions of lives around the globe and through her career, she helped combat stereotypes being a refreshing example of a positive black female, paving the way for more to follow.
8. Billionaire Robert F. Smith Pledged To Rid The Student Debt of Over 400 Morehouse College GraduatesSource:Getty
Speaking of wealthy Black folks…let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that at one point Blacks weren’t allowed the opportunity of higher education or education #periodt. Fast forward to 2019 when one of the wealthiest Black people in the world helped graduates of the only all-male historically black college start a path towards generational wealth.
9. Beyoncé Paid Homage To The Black Panthers During SuperbowlSource:Getty
Despite their dedication to the black community with positive programs and initiatives, the Black Panther Party has been demonized throughout history and even labeled as a domestic terrorist group. In a bold move, Mrs. Carter used her platform on one of the world’s largest stages to bring attention and honor to this heroic group.
10. Hattie McDaniel Broke TraditionSource:Getty
Certainly, a trailblazer for the previous moment and many to follow, despite a strict “no blacks allowed” policy. Hattie McDaniel was permitted to attend the 1940 awards ceremony where she accepted the first-ever Academy Award given to an African American.
11. The National Museum of African American History and Culture OpensSource:Getty
It’s a sad fact that a real and in-depth portrayal of African American history is hard to come by. Though there are hundreds of books and small gems throughout the world that highlight lesser-known facts, the 2016 opening of the NMAAHC in Washington, D.C is a beautiful culmination that tells this important story in a momentous and unprecedented way.
12. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” SpeechSource:Getty
Just two miles away from where Barack Obama would take office, over 250,000 people gathered in 1963 to hear Dr. King speak of a nation where black people would no longer be judged by their skin and afforded the same opportunities as all Americans. This message of keeping the faith and having hope for a better tomorrow has been the backbone of the African American makeup.
13. Beyoncé Becomes 1st Black Woman To Headline Coachella…and Made It The Blackest Show PossibleSource:Getty
Uh, because we had to and Coachella, excuse us, Beychella shined a light on the greatness of HBCU bands and black Greek life, two groups that are often not taken seriously and misunderstood.
14. Call Kamala Harris Madam Vice PresidentSource:Getty
She made history becoming the first Black Vice President and the first South Asian descent Vice President.
15. Rep. Maxine Waters Reclaimed Her TimeSource:Getty
For centuries Black women have been overlooked, and disrespected, however, in a congressional hearing, that would soon go viral, this top-ranking Democrat said not today. During a hearing when a white male counterpart refused to acknowledge her authority, the California congresswoman repeatedly stated the phrase “reclaiming my time” until the proper respect was given. This was a win for Black women everywhere!
16. Colin Kaepernick Kneeled During The National AnthemSource:Getty
When asked why he chose to kneel Kaepernick responded, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football.”
17. Tommie Smith and John Carlos Salute Black Power at 1968 OlympicsSource:Getty
You can’t mention Colin Kaepernick without mentioning this iconic moment of protest. Though black athletes and celebrities using their global platforms to bring attention to social issues can be controversial, these actions are something our ancestors did not always have the opportunity to do.
18. James Brown Sang ‘I’m Black and I’m Proud’Source:Getty
Also in 1968, a few months after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, The God Father of Soul released his revolutionary hit ‘Say It Loud.’ This record brought a new wave of energy to a hurt people, inspiring Black people to have confidence in their blackness and to continue the fight for equality.
19. Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA Are All Black…For the First Time EverSource:Instagram
Pageants in America were created to showcase and highlight the ideal image of beauty and grace. For centuries this meant having white skin and silky hair. Well, not anymore as Nia Franklin, Cheslie Kryst, and Kaliegh Garris proved that black has been, is and always will be beautiful! Yaaas for #BlackGirlMagic
20. N.W.A Said…Well, You KnowSource:Getty
On the same socially conscious musician wave as James Brown, N*ggas With Attitude dropped this controversial record to unapologetically bring attention to racial profiling and the unjust treatment of Black men at the hands of police. More than 20 years later, sadly, this 1988 track is still relevant today.