Barack & Michelle Obama
President Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president of the United States. He made history in 2009 as the first African American president of the United States. This year, President Obama served his second and final term. His wife and First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, is the first African American first Lady in the United States. Her focus on health with “Let’s Move” and humanitarian efforts such as “Bring Back Our Girls” galvanized and changed the outlook of the nation. First Lady Michelle Obama is known as the one of the greatest First Ladies of all time.
Sentinel File Photo
Cathy Hughes, who started her career in radio at Howard University, is a dynamic, media pioneer who demonstrates the power of one – one woman, one vision, one company – Radio One. As Founder and Chairperson of Radio One, Inc., the largest African-American owned and operated, broadcast company in the nation, Hughes’ unprecedented career has spawned a multi-media conglomerate that generates original content across the spectrums of radio, television and digital media. This year, Howard University honored Hughes with the unveiling of the Cathy Hughes School of Communications. Also, The Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame named her as one of its 2016 Hall of Fame inductees and the sole recipient of its Music Living Legends Award.
NBA superstar Chris Paul has been an exceptional multitasker. All the while Paul is helping the Clippers be a contending, playoffs-bound team, he has funded several community outreach and philanthropy events. From giving out glasses to students of the Inglewood district with teammate Paul Pierce to providing a pair of shoes to an entire elementary school in Compton, Paul knows how to assist people both on and off the hardwood. In July, Paul was recognized for his efforts with the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award.
To most, actor Jesse Williams is known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on the hit TV show “Grey’s Anatomy.” This year, Williams made headlines for his work off camera as a civil right activist. At the annual Black Entertainment Television (BET) Award show, Williams received the Lifetime Achievement Award and gave a powerful speech highlighting police brutality, and the injustice and killings of Blacks.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris made history for women of color after beating her opponent Loretta Sanchez in the 2016 primary election. Not only did Harris become the second Black woman elected to the Senate, she also became the sixth Black U.S. Senator in the country’s history and she is the first Black and third woman to represent the California U.S. Senate.
Photo by Valerie Goodloe
On October 7, 2016, the city of Los Angeles deemed it “Clarence Avant Day”. During his recent Hollywood Walk Of Fame induction ceremony, Avant was celebrated for the sixty years of trailblazing work he’s done behind the scenes as a music executive. Renown as the “Godfather of Black Music” Avant, 85, began his career as a music manager in the 50s for the likes of R&B singer Little Willie John, jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, as well as rock and roll pioneer Tom Wilson. In the 60s, his knack for spotting talent led to the founding of Venture Records Inc. backed by MGM Records, the label would become the first joint venture between an African American-owned music company and a major record label.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested against police brutality in a way that rocked the NFL. His act of kneeling during the play of the national anthem was either seen as heroic or disrespectful. Players throughout the NFL had a diverse range of reacting to Kaepernick’s stance, some kneeled, while teams linked arms. Some disagreed with his methods, but continued the conversation of police brutality. His protest led Kaepernick to have the top jersey sales in the NFL in September. He has donated money to many organizations throughout the U.S. since the start of his protest.
The 2016 Rio Olympics was historic for Blacks across the U.S. USA women’s gymnast Simone Biles dominated the competition earning her a gold medal. Biles left Rio with four gold medals and one bronze medal. The Olympian is one of many Black athletes who broke Olympic boundaries.
Tennis icon Serena Williams best displayed her mastery of the sport during her seventh Wimbledon title run. Williams defeated Angelique Kerber 7-5 6-3 in the title match. Along with legendary tennis player and sister, Venus, they won their sixth Wimbledon title in women’s doubles. Williams now matches tennis player Steffi Graf’s number of grand slam titles.
Since 2005 Herb Wesson has served on Los Angeles’ City Council. He is the leader of the tenth district as well as the Council president. The L.A. Times referred to him as the second most powerful politician in Los Angeles, wielding huge authority over the city’s $8.8-billion budget, which governs spending on police, firefighters and an array of services. Wesson is the first African American to hold the position of Council President in the city’s history and has been re-elected three times to lead the city’s legislative body. During his tenure as Council President, Wesson has presided over monumental policy initiatives making Los Angeles a better place to live, work and raise a family. Not only have local policy initiatives —which include raising the minimum wage, pension reform and consolidating city elections to increase voter turnout— positively affected local residents, but in many cases the city’s actions have spurred state and national response and served as a model for similar policies.
Mark Ridley Thomas
Since he was overwhelmingly elected in November 2008 and reelected in June 2012 to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Mark Ridley-Thomas has distinguished himself as a strong advocate for more than two million Second District residents. He presently serves as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and President of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission. He has promoted the District’s interests on a variety of fronts, including transportation, job creation and retention, and local hiring. In the area of health policy, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has overseen the construction of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, as well as a network of cutting-edge health care facilities throughout the District. He has facilitated the use of technology and encouraged an integrated approach to wellness that includes mental health care and a prominent role for school-based clinics. His advocacy has helped secure an equitable share of funding for public-private partnership health clinics in underserved areas.
Minister Tony Muhammad (Brother Tony) is known for bringing peace to the streets of Los Angeles. This year Brother Muhammad demonstrated his love for the Black community by holding the United Hoods plus Nation peace and unity summit at Mosque #27. There he asked Bloods and Crips to have an open dialogue to unite and stop killings in the Black community.
Mayor James Butts
Inglewood Mayor James Butts took office in 2011. Since then, crime has been reported as the lowest level in the history of the city. Mayor Butts has also revamped city services, reconstructed the Forum, and helped brokered a deal which lead to the NFL returning to Los Angeles area.
Soon to be former Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief William Scott will take the new position as San Francisco’s police chief. For the last 27 years, the 52-year-old officer has led Los Angeles’ South Bureau working assignments in patrol, detectives, gangs, Operations West Bureau, Internal Affairs, Professional Standards Bureau, the Office of Operations, Patrol Commanding Officer and Area Commanding Officer. He is a graduate of the Senior Management Institute of Policing (SMIP), and has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. According to news reports from San Francisco, Mayor Lee may garner criticism of himself for choosing an outside candidate for the position as opposed to the perceived front runner Toney Chaplin, currently SFPD’s acting police chief. Sixty one candidates applied to the job in San Francisco, according to news reports from SFGATE.com. His longtime administrative experience plus his work dealing with police reform in Los Angeles, figured into Lee’s decision.
Top Stories of 2016
This year, the Board of Supervisors declared homelessness an emergency in Los Angeles County. The measure HHH, which was one of the first acts the newly built board came as a response to motions by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. The measure which was approved by voters in the 2016 primary election will build over 8,000 to 10,000 permanent housing units for the homeless for the next decade, amenities and temporary shelters. AP Photo
The 2016 Elections will be a year not soon forgotten as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton went head-to-head with the United States as the battle ground. In an upset that sent shockwaves through the nation, New York real estate millionaire Donald Trump won the White House over former the Secretary of State in the biggest and most stunning upset victory for the White House in modern presidential politics. Although many are still in shock, the road to the White House produced some powerful and memorable moments. This year, three African American women were named to top leadership positions: Rev. Leah D. Daughtry, Donna Brazile, and the Honorable Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio served as leaders at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. This year’s convention also brought in over 2,000 delegates representing states from across the nation. On behalf of their constituents, delegates and community leaders pushed social, civic, environmental, fiscal and political agendas on the convention floor to ensure the people that they represent had a say so in the Democratic process. Also, during both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, California saw significant spikes in activity on its online voter registration site. There were a total of 30,240 registrations or updates to registrations conducted online during the Republican convention and 56,594 registrations or updates during the Democratic convention. The majority of registration activity was by younger Californians ages 17 – 35. Sentinel File Photo Collage by Brian W. Carter
City Council Hate Crime
Wayne Spindler, a licensed attorney, was arrested, and later released on $75,000 bail by Los Angeles Police Department on charges associated with graphic drawings and comments passed to City Council President Herb Wesson during a Rules, Elections, Intergovernmental Relations and Neighborhoods Meeting with a drawing of a man (presumed to be Mr. Wesson) being hung by a tree and a Ku Klux Klan member celebrating beside a burning cross. In a showing of community support, Los Angeles Sentinel Executive Publisher and Brotherhood Crusade Board Chairman Danny Bakewell Sr., brought together leaders from an array of community organizations in support of Council President Herb Wesson. Judge Carol Goodson granted a three-year restraining order to Wesson against Spindler for making what many consider to be terrorist threats and hate speech against the council president as well as other members of the city council. As part of the restraining order Spindler was required to surrender all firearms and ammunition to the Los Angeles Police Department. The Sentinel learned that none of the firearms that had been surrendered to the Los Angeles Police Department were registered to Spindler. Spindler said accusations by public officials and others that he is racist had “destroyed” his life and hurt his business as an immigration attorney and filed two claims against the city alleging $775,000 in damages. Ultimately, the D.A.’s office cited Spindler’s First Amendment rights and insufficient evidence that he violated any of the threat statutes as reasons for not filing a criminal case. It was concluded there was insufficient evidence that Spindler crossed the “somewhat nebulous line between constitutionally protected free speech and punishable `true threat.’” Sentinel File Phot
The Tuskegee Airmen celebrated 75th anniversary honoring the milestone of the first African-American pilots in U.S. history. The Tuskegee Airmen were composed of both men and women who served as a civilian support staff for the Tuskegee Experience or enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. This year was also filled with mourning of Tuskegee airman and WWII veteran Dr. Roscoe C. Brown who passed away at the age of 94 and the oldest documented Tuskegee airman Walter Crenshaw Jr. who passed away at the age of 106. Tuskegee airman and WWII veteran Wallace Higgins accepted the Congressional Gold Medal for his 70 years of service. Courtesy Photo
California was the first state in the nation to approve a statewide minimum wage as high as $15. Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 3 after the measure passed the State Assembly and State Senate. The new law will gradually raise the state’ minimum wage each year until it reaches $15 in 2022. SB 3 establishes annual increases capped at 3.5 percent based on the U.S. Consumer Price Index once California’s minimum wage reaches $15.The bill also delays wage increases for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. For those small companies, the first increase to $10.50 will begin in 2018. The new income floor of $15 an hour will be reached a year later in 2023. Recently, across the nation this week, fast food, home-care, child-care and other workers rallied in cities including Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis and New York for the implementation of higher minimum wages. Sentinel File Photo
Gangs Unite for Peace
Members of L.A. Bloods and Crips gangs met in peace under one roof at the Nation of Islam’s meeting on July 17 and forged the “Bloods & Crips 2016 Peace Treaty, July 17th Cease Fire Agreement.” This unprecedented act of peace came after multi-platinum rappers, The Game and Snoop Dogg and Problem, a rapper and Game’s best friend, and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan called on them to open dialogue on how to unite, stop the violence, and make their neighborhood a safe, decent place to live. Gang members, gang interventionists, and families of loved ones victimized by gang violence, filled the Church of Scientology’s three-story Vermont Community Center to hear a host of speakers and weigh-in on next steps. Sentinel File Photo
For over two weeks 60 to 70 members and supporters of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles (BLMLA) held a sit-in outside City Hall demanding Mayor Eric Garcetti fire LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, hold police commission meetings that are open to the community, appoint community advocates to key Commission seats, adhere to quarterly Town Hall meetings structured with the Black community and work in partnership with the Los Angeles City Council to develop reparations policy. BLMLA received support from unions and celebrities like Cedric the Entertainer, Tina Knowles, Marlon Wayans, Meagan Good and husband Devon Franklin, Jesse Williams, Boris Kodjoe and wife Nicole Parker and more. Amanda Scurlock/ L.A. Sentinel
One of South L.A.’s most prolific serial killers known as the Grim Sleeper, was sent to death row for the murder of nine women and one teenage girl. The killings took place from 1985 to 2007. With the trial closed, families can begin to properly grieve over their loved ones. Sentinel File Photo
This year, the NFL returned to the city of Inglewood and is the new home to the Los Angeles Rams. The $2.6 billion stadium will be on site of the Hollywood Park racetrack with a projected opening in 2019. Sentinel File Photo
Sunday, June 12marked the day of a horrific tragedy in Orlando, FL. Omar Mateen and walked into Pulse Nightclub with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle killing 49 citizens and wounding 53. Nine African Americans men and women were among the people who were found dead. Mateen was killed in a shootout with local police. MySpace via AP
Darnell Garcia is an ex-Drug Enforcement Agent (DEA) that served 21 years in federal prison. In 1988, at 43 years of age Garcia was charged with drug trafficking, money laundering and providing intelligence information to a fugitive drug dealer. Garcia was released early in November 2011 after violently appealing to President Obama through the clemency board and the parole board. Garcia revealed exclusive evidence and information during his sit-down interview with the Sentinel that he expressed would once and for all redeem his name and paint the proper picture of the so-called Ex-DEA agent from south central who went rogue. According to Garcia, many of the harsher drug laws that affected minorities are slowly but surely changing. Garcia does, however, feel that his case is a great example of what the justice system could do better. Sentinel File Photo
Michelle King was chosen as Superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education this year. King had been with the district for 31 years as a teacher and administrator. She is the first woman to lead the district in more than 80 years and the first black woman to ever lead the nation’s second-largest district. King’s platform since taking her positions has been to expand efforts to engage parents, LAUSD unions and other stakeholders to take an active effort in moving the district forward and “create new pathways for all students and give them the tools they need to succeed. Sentinel File Photo
Metro/Leimert Station Ground Breaking
“Harriet”, Metro’s tunnel boring machine named after the abolitionist and leader of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, broke through Leimert Park underground station. Harriet was lowered into the ground under the future Crenshaw/ Expo Station last winter and began digging to the South in April, according to Metro. It reached the Martin Luther King Jr. Station in August and began excavating the last segment of the one mile tunnel in September. Set to officially open in 2019, the station will become a economic boon to Leimert Park and its surrounding communities. It has already provided and will continue to provide jobs and facilitate transportation allowing people to explore opportunities outside of their neighborhood. Sentinel File Photo
Flint Water Crisis
The city of Flint, Michigan took center stage amongst many issues this year. The city of nearly 100,000 people has been dealing with lead contamination since switching from Detroit’s water system, which draws from Lake Huron, to the Flint River in April 2014. The short-term move was made to save money, but state regulators failed to require corrosion chemicals, which let toxic lead from old pipes leach into the supply. Flint has since returned to Detroit’s water system. Sentinel File Photo
Sale of Ebony & Jet Magazines
Johnson Publishing Co. announced in June that Ebony and digital-only Jet were sold to the African-American-owned publishing business, Clear View Group. The sale of the magazines was closed in May, and no sale price was disclosed. Johnson Publishing will retain its Fashion Fair Cosmetics business and Ebony photo archive. The sale of the magazines allowed the publishing company to reduce its debt associated with the media industry. Ebony magazine was founded by John Johnson in 1945, but had been affected by declining circulation and revenues in recent years as it tried to evolve from print to digital platforms. This was the first investment for Clear View. Sentinel File Photo
Taste of Soul
2016 marked the 11th year of Taste of Soul (TOS), presented by Bakewell Media to highlight businesses in the Black community, bringing together people, food and live entertainment. The family festival once again brought in over 350,000 people to Crenshaw Blvd in South Los Angeles from all walks of life. TOS continues to bring community the together and promote unity and brotherhood. Sentinel File Photo