Top 25 Memorable Moments of 2020 For Black America

2020 started with the massively destructive wildfires that swept acres upon acres of land in Australia, and was followed with a series of sometimes unbelievable events. 

For Black America, this year has been with tremendous loss and grief of some of our beloved icons, family members, and the collective loss of those who died as a result of police brutality. 

The year brought on new challenges as we navigated a global pandemic, making up a large portion of the essential workforce who have been on the frontlines. We took to the streets, stimulating a new age racial reckoning in the nation and world. 

We carved pockets of joy online and in our driveways, balancing the weight of such a monumental year. 

Here, we cover 25 of our most memorable moments this year, as we look to the finish line and new day of 2021.

The deaths of Kobe and Gigi Bryant.

On January 26, the world learned of the tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven others who lives were cut short in a helicopter crash in California. The world is still mourning this huge loss.

Pop Smoke's death and the multiple rappers we lost this year.

In February, rising rap star Pop Smoke was fatally shot in California. His death shocked fans across the country as his album Meet the Woo 2 was released just two weeks prior to his death. Pop Smoke is just one of several rappers we lost this year including King Von, Dallas rapper Mo3, and "Pop, Lock, and Drop It" rapper Huey.

Global Black Lives Matter Protests following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others.

The protests that followed the tragic losses of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the long list of names of those who've died as a result of racial injustice in America were historic. For months, daily protests were held in the streets in every single state and around the world, as the calls for justice and an end to policing as we know it rang out. Even still, the momentum of those movements shook every industry, and raised consciousness of countless people as we reckon with the nation's history.

We made our way to "Club Quarantine" hosted By DJ D-Nice.

Acclaimed DJ D-Nice first gave us "the biggest party in the world" in March. Millions of viewers from around the globe joined the nine-hour set which even had VIP guests like former First Lady Michelle Obama, Janet Jackson, Drake, Oprah, Rihanna, just to name a few. D-Nice got his start in music with the hip-hop group Boogie Down Productions in the late 80s and his innovation during the pandemic has been widely celebrated.

NBA Players boycotted Playoff Games.

In a bold move of demonstration, NBA players boycotted the games in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movements that were capturing the attention of the nation.

Beyoncé released three Ivy Park collections with Adidas.

Did you get anything? Each collection of athleisure wear sold out in mere minutes. Fans who were lucky enough to snag some items got to choose from the original cream, burgundy and orange line, a coral and light teal collection, or the latest camel brown and black palette, each with new, bold designs and extended sizing.

We celebrated Juneteenth, some of us for the first time ever.

The summer began with global protests of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. As a cultural shift and communal reflection took place, many celebrated Juneteenth with extra fervor or for the first time. The celebration has its origins in Texas when enslaved African people finally learned of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The deaths of Civil Rights icons John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian.

We lost two leaders of the Civil Rights movement on the same day this year on July 17. The two earned their rest, and left a legacy and a blueprint of how to continue making good trouble.

Verzuz Battles had us reliving some of the biggest music moments with our legends.

Music bosses Timbaland and Swizz Beats banded together to deliver music battles and celebrations between some of our living legends. There have been 17 battles so far, and we got to witness history between icons like Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, Nelly and Ludacris, Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy, just to name a few. The battles bring in millions of viewers and has been a reprieve to the pandemic and tough moments of this year.

Beyoncé's Black Is King visual album gave us opulence, choreography, and a reimagined soundtrack for our joy, journey, and resistance.

Premiering on Disney+ at the end of July, Black Is King provided captivating visuals to parallel the story in Beyoncé's The Lion King: The Gift album and movie soundtrack from the 2019 live action rendition of The Lion King.

Nicki Minaj became a mom. (She really has a son now).

The rapper gave birth at the end of September. Her pregnancy photos went viral and the newborn already has fans.

BET created the first virtual awards show in response to the pandemic.

The network was applauded for their mesmerizing improvisation and ability to deliver a virtual awards show amid the pandemic and civil unrest over the summer.

We hosted multiple awards shows.

Before the lockdown, Alicia Keys hosted the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. Keke Palmer hosted the MTV Music Awards in August. Most recently, Taraji P. Henson hosted the 2020 American Music Awards at the end of November.

Jada brought herself to the Red Table.

In a revealing interview with Angela Yee, singer August Alsina shared the details of a rocky romantic "entanglement" with Jada Pinkett-Smith which prompted the legendary actress to bring herself to the table on her series Red Table Talk.

Our beloved sitcoms came to Netflix.

Thanks to the work of Netflix exec Jasmyn Lawson and Strong Black Lead, some of our most cherished sitcoms made their way over to the streaming platform, just as the fall season began. We got to relive the drama between "Joan" and "Tony" on Girlfriends, read "Moesha's" diary, see the comedic genius of Countess Vaughnn and Monique on The Parkers, and witnessed the sister-mother feud on Half and Half. We remembered our choreography to the Sister Sister theme song, and learned we've been spelling One on One's heart throb "Arnaz's" name all the way wrong. And we can't forget all the drama served to us on The Game.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry left the Royal family.

The couple's decision to leave the Royal family came after nearly two years of marriage and a series of headlines that underscored the difficulty the two faced while attached to the Royal family. They bought a home in California in July.

The Last Dance documentary aired.

When the NBA announced delays to the regular season amid pandemic lockdowns, many fans were left wondering what they were going to watch. Well, ESPN fixed that with a 10-part series into the life of basketball legend Michael Jordan. The series first aired April 19 and lasted a month.

How To Get Away With Murder ended.

One of our favorite TV lawyers ended her tumultuous, scandal-riddled careers this year after six seasons. Viola Davis played legal powerhouse "Annalise Keating" in a mysterious and murderous series by Shonda Rhimes. The series' conclusion left many fans wanting more. If you haven't caught up, or want to relive the wild ride, the series is available on Netflix.

Former President Barack Obama broke records with his book, A Promised Land.

The 44th Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama penned a book that revealed intimate moments from his first term. The sales broke records, selling nearly a million copies in the first day alone. The 768-paged memoir is also available in digital and audiobook formats.

TikTok Dance Challenges

As we adjusted to lockdown, many turned to TikTok, the social media platform known for its short video content and viral dance challenges. In February of this year, 14-year-old dance innovator Jalaiah Harmon was recognized as the creator of the global dance routine phenomenon "The Renegade." Harmon choreographed the dance back in October 2019 to KCamp's "Lottery," captivating audiences all over the world with the precise steps, and moves. Some of us are still trying to learn.

Harmon wasn't alone in creating dances this year. Nineteen-year-old Keara "Keke" Wilson choreographed a fun, sultry routine to Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage (Remix)" featuring Beyoncé. Again, some of us are still learning the steps, but we are cheering all of the skilled dancers and creators in the comment section.

First Black Bachelor, Matt James, named in franchise history.

The popular show added some diversity to its main contestants, naming Matt James as the franchise's first Black Bachelor. Tayshia Adams became the second Black bachelorette this year, too.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' win.

Joseph R. Biden was elected as the 46th President of the United States in a historic feat. Kamala Harris made history as the first Black, the first South Asian, and the first woman to be elected as Vice President. She's also the first HBCU alumna to serve in the White House.

Chadwick Boseman's death.

The loss of Chadwick Boseman shocked the world as his years-long battle with cancer was revealed. The Black Panther actor's death wounded fans of the Marvel franchise, and the Black community who we honored as a legend-in-the-making for his performances in 42, Get On Up, and Marshall. His last film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is out on Netflix.

NASA renamed its headquarters after first Black woman engineer.

In June, the NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. was renamed after "Hidden Figure" Mary W. Jackson. They also sent Victor Glover, the first Black man to do a long-term stay on the ISS this year.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 30th Anniversary Reunion Special

The show's cast celebrated its 30th anniversary with a reunion special on HBO organized by lead actor Will Smith. There were plenty of tears to go around, as the cast remembered the late James Avery who played one of tv's favorite dads "Uncle Phil." The reunion included a first-time meeting between both "Aunt Viv" actors Janet Hubert and Daphne Maxwell Reid, and a heart-to-heart between Hubert and Smith after a rocky history.

Merriam-Webster may have declared it the "word of the year," but we found other ways to describe the health crisis.

We called the pandemic every word we could think of, except "pandemic." Panorama, Panasonic, Picadilly, Photosynthesis, you name it we've said it. As with many rough moments, we find ways to laugh.

Here's to more joy in the coming year, and the strength to continue marching on.

Photos: Getty Images

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