From continuing to deal with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, to Black Americans being attacked by white supremacists, 2022 has been a long year. But we’re still our ancestor’s wildest dreams — and that’s why despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles and the myriad inequalities brought about by racism, we remember that our experience as a people is also filled with joy and victory. Good things are always happening in our communities, so we’re sharing a few of the news stories that have helped us move forward with hope. We’ll be updating this list throughout the rest of 2022 and turning the spotlight on all of the good news happening and the inspiring Black folk creating positive change in our communities.
1. Ketanji Brown Jackson — period! We witnessed history when she was nominated and then confirmed as the first Black woman to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the high court, as she’s sworn in today. Photos released from the Collection of the Supreme Court pic.twitter.com/bozVp8mgRt— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 30, 2022
2. President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law. It took over 100 years and 200 failed legislative attempts, but in March, lynching finally became a federal hate crime.
Emmett Till’s cousin, Reverend Wheeler, visited the White House on March 29, 2022 to join @POTUS as he signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law. Reverend Wheeler discusses the importance of passing this bill, the progress we’ve made, and the work we have left to do. pic.twitter.com/ppXemiPPY4— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 3, 2022
3. Maya Angelou became the first Black woman on the U.S. quarter: In January quarters featuring the beloved poet, author, and activist went into circulation. Check your change for them!
Next time you receive change from a cashier, take a look at the palm of your hand: There’s a chance Maya Angelou will be staring back at you on a quarter. This marks the first time a Black woman has appeared on one. What a beautiful moment. Maya, look at what you did! ??? pic.twitter.com/nVUirrebmi— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 21, 2022
4. The fifth-largest economy in the world got serious about reparations. In June the California Reparations Task Force released it’s groundbreaking, nearly 600-page report detailing the deliberate harm done to Black Americans in the Golden State.
– This report is the 1st of 2. This report DOES NOT include a comprehensive reparations plan (no details of $$$ & which residents are eligible)— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) June 1, 2022
– The second report is due to lawmakers by summer 2023
– The report is being viewed as a potential model to take reparations nationwide
5. Sheryl Lee Ralph got her flowers. The original Dreamgirl sang “Endangered Species” while accepting her first Emmy, and received extravagant bouquets from Beyoncé and Oprah in the days following the award show.
6. Fisk University became the first HBCU to launch a women’s gymnastics team. The team flipped the internet when a video of their practice went viral on Tik Tok.
Oh nothing, just making history! ???♀️?? pic.twitter.com/mgN4r1tMcE— Fisk University (@Fisk1866) August 9, 2022
7. A Black-owned chocolate brand became the exclusive chocolatier of Cadillac. The Memphis-based Phillip Ashley brand is known as the “modern day Willy Wonka” due to its bold flavors, like bourbon salted caramel and collards & cornbread.
8. Megan Piphus Peace became the first Black woman puppeteer on Sesame Street. After spending a season as a puppeteer performer, the 29-year-old former real estate developer became a full-time cast member in season 52 of the show.
Megan Piphus Peace is making history as the first Black woman puppeteer on ‘Sesame Street.’ pic.twitter.com/SZbYG8L2W0— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 21, 2022
9. Academic ambitions. At 14-years-old, Morayo Owopetu is both a high school senior and has enough credits to be a college sophomore. The Maryland teen wants to follow in her mom’s footsteps and become a dentist with the hopes of eventually opening clinics in Nigeria.
10. Kahlana Barfield Brown became the first partner of Target’s “Future Collective” clothing brand. The 120-item collection features a variety of affordable styles, most under $35, that run from XXS through 4X.
11. Shark-approved organic skincare. Tania Speaks, a 19-year-old from Baltimore, got a $400K investment from Mark Cuban for her organic skincare line during her appearance on Shark Tank.
12. Yes, we DO ski! This year a Washington, D.C.-area Black ski club is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Black Ski, Inc.was one of the earliest Black ski clubs in the country, and the 500-member group has traveled all around the globe to hit the slopes.
“Where there’s snow, we’ll go.” -Ken Ford, Black Ski, Inc.’s board chairman and an original member, on heading out to some of the world’s best ski resorts over the years, even though they’re aware they’d probably be the only Black people on the mountain. https://t.co/yUreQ7Fl6z pic.twitter.com/QwQp8rdmVk— DCist (@DCist) September 20, 2022
13. Former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama’s official portraits were unveiled. And can we say, they are absolutely stunning!
From this day forward, the official portraits of former President Obama and former First Lady Obama will now display on the walls of the White House – the People’s House – forever. pic.twitter.com/Ceb0wR4Ya2— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 8, 2022
14. Students at USC started a majorette dance team — and we’re here for it. Organized by 20-year-old musical theater major Princess Isis Lang, the Cardinal Divas performed at their first football game on Sept. 17.
oh nothing… i created a majorette team at a PWI and performed at our first game.— Princess?? (@princesslang0) September 19, 2022
truly though i’m so blessed and can’t thank God enough. Thank you to my parents and to everyone who supported me along this LONG journey. and my girls FYE?The Cardinal Divas of SC are UP NEXT. pic.twitter.com/vif5e02z4b
15. Tabitha Brown took over! The vegan influencer launched a cooking show on the Food Network, a clothing line at Target, and she has a plant-based cookbook being released this fall — and she can do that, because that’s her business!
16. 19-year-old Haley Taylor Schlitz made history as the youngest Black law school graduate. Schlitz crossed the stage with her degree at Southern Methodist University Dedman School in May.
17. Henrietta Lacks’ family took a pharmaceutical company to court 70 years after her cells were stolen. Her descendants are the closest they’ve ever gotten to getting justice — and they have attorney Ben Crump on their side.
It’s been 70 years since Henrietta Lack’s immortal cells were stolen and then sold by pharmaceutical companies. Our health reporter @AlexaImani spoke to the Lacks family and attorney Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) about getting justice for Henrietta.https://t.co/GB3CCUQbLB— Word In Black (@WordInBlack) June 3, 2022
18. The return of Bruce’s Beach. In July, ownership of a beach in Manhattan Beach, California, officially went back to the descendants of Charles and Willa Bruce, a Black couple who opened a resort there in 1912, only to have their property stolen in 1924.
I wrote about the return of Bruce’s Beach to the Bruce family and how it proves reparations are possible. “So let it be a reminder to us all: When it comes to achieving racial justice and righting wrongs, we won’t be stopped. Not now, not ever.” https://t.co/F5ty3VSCCK— Liz Courquet-Lesaulnier (@losangelista) July 21, 2022
19. Halle Bailey is the “Little Mermaid”! The live action remake of the “Little Mermaid” will be released next year and showcase Halle’s impressive acting and vocal skills.
20. From homeless teen to HBCU basketball star. Jeremiah Armstead spent three years sleeping in cars and in and out of domestic violence shelters. Now he is the newest recruit for Fisk University’s freshman basketball team.
Jeremiah Armstead, 18, was houseless since the age of 14 and often slept in a car. Now, he’s been accepted into Fisk University, an HBCU in Nashville, on a partial scholarship–and also secured a spot on the school’s basketball team.— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) September 8, 2022
21. All-Black audience for an all-Black cast. A D.C. theater reserved one night for an all-Black audience to watch the Broadway-bound show “Ain’t No Mo’.” Both audience and cast members described the atmosphere as euphoric, and the show’s lead said, “To have the entire audience full of Black people was literally like church for us.”
On Friday, September 16, we hosted our first Blackout Night in Woolly history and it was joyous! “To have the entire audience full of Black people was literally like church for us,” says Woolly Company Member and #AintNoMo star, Jon Hudson Odom. https://t.co/0eatzR56p0— Woolly Mammoth (@woollymammothtc) September 27, 2022
22. Full circle for the “mother of the movement.” Dollie Burwell and her predominantly Black community in Warren County, North Carolina, raised awareness of environmental racism 40 years ago through six weeks of protests. Her work had a lasting impact. The Environmental Protection Agency will open its new Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights office, and Burwell attended the announcement.
The EPA announced this week that it would create a environmental justice office. Dollie Burwell, the “mother of the movement,” was there at the announcement to hear just how far her work had reached 40 years later, @jkutzie reports. https://t.co/yFQehtfrCJ— Abby Johnston (@ajohnston12) September 29, 2022
23. Dancing to the top! The largest group of Black women reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, or the “Roof of Africa.” Erika Liles organized the trip for the 14 women in honor of her 50th birthday — and they danced all the way up to 19,340 feet above sea level with the #CuffItChallenge.
24. Maryland gets its first Black governor. Wes Moore was declared the winner of the Maryland gubernatorial race in Baltimore. His victory flips the governor’s office from Republican to Democratic.
25. Howard University is officially home to The Center for Journalism and Democracy — and it’s inspired by the Black press. Led by Howard’s Knight Chair in Race and Journalism and creator of the 1619 project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the first-of-its-kind center seeks to train journalists across HBCUs, develop budding investigative reporters, and strengthen historically-informed journalism.
26. Karen Bass becomes the first woman elected as Los Angeles Mayor. After a long career as a congresswoman and state lawmaker, Bass defeated Rick Caruso, a billionaire developer, to lead Los Angeles.
27. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever released in Nov. Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. The movie played a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman who died before they could film the second movie.
28. Missy Elliot’s wax figure is here — and she’s perfect. Two years in the making, the Las Vegas location of Madame Tussauds unveiled the artist’s wax figure, which is rocking her outfit from when she earned the Video Vanguard Award in 2019. The outfit is made of over 125,000 stones, and each braid in her hair was created strand by strand.
?ATTENTION:?My WAX FIGURE is OFFICIALLY in @madametussaudsusa Museum in #LasVegas!??YOU MUST SEE IT IN PERSON It’s INSANE??The braids in my hair they did strand by strand NO wig or unit & My outfit is from the @vmas when I received the Michael Video Vanguard Award!? pic.twitter.com/YBfrdavmmI— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) November 4, 2022
29. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are tied as the most Grammy-nominated artists. After this year’s Grammy nominations were released, Queen B’s tally came to 88 nominations, the most of any artist — other than her husband, who has the same number. Beyoncé received nine nominations ahead of the 2023 awards ceremony, topping the list, and Jay-Z got five.
When Beyoncé was just beginning her musical career, I remember that her goal was to win a Grammy.— Mathew Knowles (@MathewKnowles) November 16, 2022
I am so proud of her latest achievement in becoming the most nominated musical act in The Recording Academy’s history—a distinction she holds with my son-in-law, Jay-Z! pic.twitter.com/XC5Ef9hBwE
30. Hakeem Jeffries becomes the first Black American to lead a major political party in Congress. New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries will lead House Democrats next year.
Hakeem Jeffries Becomes First Black American to Lead a Major Political Party in Congress – The Washington Informer https://t.co/PhUdZgPSur— Washington Informer (@WashInformer) November 30, 2022
31. 18-year-old Jaylon Smith is the nation’s youngest Black mayor. In a runoff election in Earle, Arkansas, the recent high school graduate won with 218 votes compared to his opponents’ 139. The town, located 30 miles North of Memphis, has a population of under 2,000. Smith said his top priorities are improving public safety, tearing down abandoned houses, bringing a grocery store to the community, and working on transportation.
18-year-old Jaylen Smith has been elected the mayor of Earle, Arkansas on Tuesday night, becoming the youngest Black mayor in the United States.— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) December 7, 2022
Smith won the election with 218 votes, compared to his competitor’s 139.
?: https://t.co/63FxqlJTPl pic.twitter.com/kxyoP2cBDr
32. Brittney Griner is free! The #BringBrittneyHome movement was successful as the White House announced the WNBA star was released from Russian custody in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
33. Raphael Warnock becomes the first Black man to be elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate. After a close count, democract Warnock beat republican Hershel Walker in Georgia’s runoff election. Warnock’s win is seen as s step in the right direction to secure reproductive rights in the state.
Thank you, Georgia. We did it again. pic.twitter.com/jikuO5Kt8S— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) December 7, 2022
34. Missy Elliott graduates with Norfolk State University class of 2022! The rapper received her second Ph.D. from the renowned HBCU. Go, Dr. Elliott!