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Top National Stories of 2020
By Sentinel Staff
Published December 31, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Devastates The Nation and World

(AP Photo)

COVID-19 circulated the news and conversations in 2019 but it wasn’t until it hit the U.S. in late March, early April that many recognized the gravity of the virus. Life changed for many around the world but especially in the states as everyone was introduced to stay at home orders, social distancing, masks and washing their hands multiple times a day. COVID-19 brought on a great economic downturn as businesses closed due to social distancing forcing companies to rethink how they will reach consumers. Many small businesses, restaurants and social spots didn’t make through the first few months with Black-owned businesses faring the worse. Some countries endured the pandemic, returning to normal conditions after months of sheltering and protocols, only to go through a resurgence. Worldwide, there are currently 81.9 million cases of COVID-19 with 1.79 million deaths and 46.3 million who have recovered. The recent release of much anticipated vaccines are being distributed with health officials hopeful they will bring an end to the pandemic.

 

George Floyd – AMERICA ON FIRE

George Floyd (File Photo)

(AP Photo)

All 50 of the United States saw protests and more than 10,000 people were arrested, cities have enacted curfews and several states and the District of Columbia have called up the National Guard following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison that Derek Chauvin, the officer accused of causing the death of George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes, was charged with second-degree murder and three other former officers who were on the scene – Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were charged with aiding and abetting murder. The 46-year-old Floyd died after his arrest on a charge of allegedly passing a counterfeit bill. In a now globally seen video clip, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is kneeling on the neck of a prone and handcuffed Floyd for approximately eight minutes. Floyd could be heard telling the officers he could not breathe and calling out for his mother before eventually becoming unresponsive. Protests of Floyd’s death and other African Americans spread to several cities where violence followed. Police, politicians and media have blamed organizers and outside agitators for creating the violence, on-the-ground organizers and observers countered that undercover police officers embedded in the crowds were the actual culprits. Following the protests, curfews were put in place across the United States major metropolitan areas. Since then, Floyd has become a symbol of martyrdom across the world

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Biden-Harris Win Election

(AP Photo)

The nation reacted to the new frontier of a Black woman holding one of the most influential seats of power for the first time in history. America celebrated state-to-state, parading the news, and smelling the new day of change that came from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris winning the election. This victory pays tribute to countless steps from marches and protests led by noted activists finally reaching the front of the line to see balance and equality.

 

The funeral services for Kobe and Gianna Bryant

(Valerie Goodloe/L.A Sentinel)

The celebration of life was intentionally held on 2.24.20 to commemorate the numbers worn by Gianna Bryant (No. 2), Kobe Bryant (No. 24) and the number of years Kobe played for the Lakers (20), which was also the number of years he and his wife Vanessa were a couple. Their numbers were even incorporated in the ticket prices charged to attend the memorial. Fans who were chosen received an invitation to purchase tickets to the memorial that were priced in three tiers: $224 each, two for $224, and $24.02 each.

 

 

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Marijuana Legalized at Federal Level

(NNPA)

Marijuana Legalized at Federal Level: On Friday, December 4, 2020, in Washington, DC, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that would decriminalize both the smoking and possession of marijuana. House Members maintain that the bill aims to correct some of the devastating injustices caused by the War on Drugs. If it passes both chambers and is signed into law, the legislation will legalize the drug’s distribution and authorize a 5 percent sales tax on marijuana products. Proceeds from the tax will be invested in job training, legal aid, and substance abuse treatment for individuals adversely impacted by the war on drugs. According to the bill, which passed mostly along party lines, the tax revenue would also provide funds for small business loans and allow access to marijuana licensing and employment for economically disadvantaged individuals.

 

NO ONE IS HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR BREONNA TAYLOR’S MURDER

(File Photo)

No officer was held responsible for Breonna Taylor’s murder. The two officers who fired the fatal shots that hit and killed Ms.Taylor were not charged. A grand jury indicted one former Louisville police detective, Brett Hankison, in connection with the death of Breonna Taylor charging him with three counts of wanton endangerment of someone else – a man, his pregnant wife and their five-year-old daughter in an adjoining apartment. The investigation took 220 days.

 

Congress Passes Historic Anti-Lynching Legislation

(AP Photo)

The U.S. House of Representatives have finally passed H.R. 35, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Tim Scott (R-SC) applauded the passage of the bill, which is identical to anti-lynching legislation the three introduced in the Senate last year. That legislation unanimously passed the Senate. Harris called lynchings racially-motivated acts of violence and terror that represent a dark and despicable chapter of our nation’s history.

 

‘Hair Love’s’ Matthew A. Cherry Wins Big at the Oscars, Highlights CROWN Act At the Oscars

(L.A. Sentinel)

Matthew A. Cherry, the NFL star turned filmmaker who rocked the nation with the “Hair Love,” won for Best Animated Short Film. Cherry had been widely celebrated in the weeks leading up to what’s considered the biggest night in film and television, with supporters globally rallying around him to express the importance of the narrative and the magnitude of the film’s highly-anticipated win. From national morning show segments to a “Hair Love” mural spotted in Accra, Ghana, the impact of the short film has redefined how Black boys and girls all over the world see and love themselves. Heightening the notoriety, the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) recently honored Cherry with Breakthrough Director of the Year, followed-up by two NAACP Image Award nominations for the show’s upcoming telecast on February 22. These distinctions are worth noting, namely because honoring ourselves should always be a priority. The win also speaks to a larger initiative, The CROWN Act, legislation initially influenced by Los Angeles High School teen and Ted Talk speaker, Kawika Smith, officially drafted and proposed by California Senator Holly J. Mitchell to prohibit discrimination based on hair style and texture.

 

Black Woman, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, Developed the Scientific Approach to the Coronavirus Vaccine

(NNPA)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease doctor and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, addressed the African American community’s fears of accepting the new coronavirus vaccine. Dr. Fauci noted that Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black woman, has been at the forefront of the vaccine process. Dr. Corbett, 34, is an accomplished research fellow and the scientific lead for the Coronavirus Vaccines & Immunopathogenesis Team at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center (VRC).

 

Social uprising Continues in Kenosha as Jacob Blake champions through surgery

(File Photo)

Kenosha, Wisconsin is a small city on the shore of Lake Michigan and of the approximately 200 sworn-in officers, only 10-15 are Black or LatinX. Their Police Chief Daniel Miskins has been slow to equip the department with resources aligned with the progression of police reform.The City Law Enforcement department has not been provided with body cams, according to Kenosha public officials. Twenty-nine year old Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times at close range, while his three sons were in the car. Blake went through surgery and he now champions through paralysis from the waist down.

 

Maxine Waters Announces Over $1Billion in Paycheck Protection Program Loans

(File Photo)

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, released a district data sheet which summarizes Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) data provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding loans made to businesses in Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lomita, Los Angeles, Playa Vista, and Torrance. Over one billion dollars in PPP loans were awarded to 10,750 businesses within Congresswoman Waters’ congressional district. The fact sheet outlines loan approvals through August 8, 2020, and PPP loan distribution for California’s 43rd Congressional District by city, size, and industry. On June 22, 2020, Chairs Maxine Waters, Richard Neal, and Nydia Velázquez issued a statement reiterating their demand for full transparency regarding the Paycheck Protection Program following an announcement by the Department of Treasury and the Small Business Administration stating they would disclose certain information regarding PPP loans and recipients.

 

40 Years of Cathy Hughes Leadership at Urban One

(File Photo)

Celebrities, politicians and business leaders gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Urban One Inc., the nation’s largest distributor of news and entertainment aimed solely at Black consumers, which also includes the largest African American owned TV network. Urban One founder and chairwoman, Cathy Hughes served as co-host for the 40th anniversary Urban One Honors awards show with comedian Chris Tucker, which aired on Hughes’s TV One network. In 2017, TV One changed its name to Urban One after it acquired a collection of Internet media websites, now known as iOne Digital, that focus on news, sports and entertainment stories about and for Black audiences.

 

Black Couple Files Racial Profiling Lawsuit Against Nike

(File Photo)

In July, TaMiya Dickerson and Joel Stallworth officially announced their civil rights lawsuit against the Nike corporation over a racial profiling dispute in 2019. The couple was falsely accused of shoplifting. Dickerson and Stallworth stopped by the Nike store in Santa Monica. Stallworth noticed his 1-year-old son gravitate towards a child-sized basketball, which he decided to purchase for his son. Stallworth said his son exclaimed, “Ball! … Ball!” The couple left the store with the basketball and a receipt to confirm their purchase. Moments later, former Nike Store Manager Wendy Magee, accused Stallworth of stealing the basketball he recently purchased. Stallworth said, “As I got out of the store, I heard a commotion behind me … and [Magee] was spewing out accusations.” Dickerson also claimed, “I see this woman lunging towards him … this White woman telling him, ‘Give me that ball back! You took that ball!’ that’s what I heard.” Dickerson recorded the incident on her smartphone as well. The footage shows Magee with two SMPD officers confronting the couple for shoplifting. Nike released a public statement that said, “We are taking the recent situation at our Santa Monica store very seriously, and we are currently investigating the facts. We have reached out to the family to express our deepest apologies, and we will continue to work with our teams to ensure we deliver on our expectations for consumer experiences.”

 

Black News Channel Network Launch Fulfills Dream of JC Watts:

(File Photo)

On January 6, 2020, the Black News Channel (BNC) became the nation’s only 24-hour news and information television network focused primarily on African Americans. The historic launch of the BNC fulfilled the business dream and vision of J.C. Watts, Jr., a nationally known entrepreneur and former U.S. Congressman, Representing Oklahoma’s Fourth District. Programming includes special news features on topics that most affect the quality of life of communities of color – like Sickle Cell Disease and hypertension – that generally aren’t given much attention to by other news outlets. The BNC has also established a news-content alliance with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), representing the Black Press of America, via 225 African American-owned newspapers and digital companies throughout the United States.

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