2022 was a *wild* year. Book bans swept the country, the U.S. The Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, and 10 Black people were tragically gunned down in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
But there was also plenty to celebrate in the Black community. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brittney Griner came home to her family, and the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act finally passed.
Knowing that, even in hard times, our community members were fighting — and winning! — battles for racial justice and equity gives us hope. That’s why we’ll keep turning the spotlight on the organizations and people working to create positive change. We’ll update this list periodically with all the good news happening to Black folks in 2023.
1. Family Sells Bruce’s Beach for $20M. After being stolen in 1924, a Manhattan beachfront property was returned to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce as an act of reparations in 2022. Now, they are selling the property back to Los Angeles County.
Nearly 100 years ago, the government took a Southern California beach away from its Black owners because of the color of their skin.— NPR (@NPR) January 5, 2023
Descendants finally regained the land — and now they intend to sell it back to LA County for nearly $20 million. https://t.co/NPYd7gVGNg
2. You can stream The 1619 Project. The Pulitzer Prize-winning work The 1619 Project exists as a news series, a book, and now a show on Hulu. Nikole Hannah-Jones’ longform work will be told in a six-part docu-series of the same name.
The greatest story never told. Coming Jan. 26. #1619hulu from @nytimes @onyxcollective and executive producers @oprah @Shoshana_guy @Rogerrosswill @Caitlinroper @Kll5 and myself. Join us. pic.twitter.com/Pv35wnQvRc— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) January 4, 2023
3. A historic deal and better food in Houston’s airport. LaTrelle’s, a Black-owned and family-led restaurateur firm, recently inked a $334 million contract for a space in the William P. Hobby Airport. The funds go toward the renovation and revitalization of the airport’s dining hub.
LaTrelle’s Wins Prime Contract At HOU. Read more on Airport Experience News! You can find the full article here: https://t.co/rbOf9g6BNr pic.twitter.com/Z7glLJWGrP— Airport Experience News (@airportxnews) January 5, 2023
4. Sticking the landing. Fisk University made history as the first HBCU to compete in NCAA gymnastics. Morgan Price, their five-star recruit, was the team’s strongest performer in all four events.
History = made ✅— Fisk University (@Fisk1866) January 7, 2023
Fisk University is the 1st HBCU program to compete at the @ncaa level!#fiskgymnastics #fiskuniversity #super16 #hbcu #explore #morganprice pic.twitter.com/z9zJVuIrTC
5. Well-deserved flowers. The Recording Academy announced The Supremes and Slick Rick will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards at this year’s GRAMMYs ceremony in February.
Congratulations to #TheSupremes on their Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree at this year’s #GRAMMYs @RecordingAcad pic.twitter.com/urBSer385Z— Dustin Fitzharris (@TheDustinFitz) January 5, 2023
6. A sweet reunion. Cleveland Cavalier guard Donovan Mitchell reunited with a special fan. Before he was traded and played in Louisville, Josh waited for Mitchell outside the arena after every game for five years. The two got to hug again for the first time since Mitchell was traded.
My guy Josh has been waiting for me at the arena every game for 5 years!! My first time seeing him since I got traded… it’s moments like these that last forever! Missed you Josh ❤️❤️!! pic.twitter.com/Y0SQphzecP— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) January 11, 2023
7. A one stop Black-owned business shop. The D.C. area is now home to a strip mall made of entirely Black-owned businesses. When Angel Gregorio opened her new spice shop, she invited others to join her, ultimately transforming a 7,500 square foot space into a one-stop-shop for local Black-owned businesses, called Black And Forth.
8. Doctors in the making. Morgan State University is the first HBCU in 45 years to open a medical school. The new school will be in partnership with Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital, and it aims to open doors in 2024.
9. Puzzle practice. Test your knowledge of the Black diaspora with Black Crossword, a free mini crossword puzzle made of terms and clues from the diaspora. New puzzles are released daily.
Black Crossword is live!— juliana (@thecityofjules) January 23, 2023
These free daily mini puzzles put an emphasis on terms and clues from the Black diaspora.
Play today’s puzzle here:https://t.co/AwS6OyeKFT pic.twitter.com/MIZymb8qs3
10. Never stop exploring. Now 78, J.R. Harris hasn’t stopped exploring since 1966. He hikes mountains, goes river rafting, travels to remote villages across the globe — and he visits elementary schools to encourage kids to follow their dreams.
11. Need renovations. After years of walking past a portrait of likely enslaver Cecilus Calvert in Maryland’s Senate building in Annapolis, Sen. William C. Smith Jr. had enough. He began a project to get that painting taken down, and it was replaced by a painting of Baltimore’s Thurgood Marshall, created by West Baltimore artist Ernest Shaw Jr.
I was truly honored to join @Willcsmithjr at the unveiling of Artist Ernest Shaw’s portrait of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. I hope all those who visit the Senate JPR Committee Room will be inspired by his legacy of fighting for racial equality. pic.twitter.com/FvIwFJwp2p— Bill Ferguson (@SenBillFerg) January 6, 2023
12. Mayoral power. For the first time in history, four of the largest cities in the United States are being led by Black mayors. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston all have Black leaders in the mayoral office.
Black mayors are leading the nation’s biggest cities for the first time – POLITICO#KeepHopeAliveWithRevJesseJackson Radio Show| #ChicagoMayor2023| SUN: 8-10aE/866.594.HOPE/#FacebookLive @YouTube @iHeartRadio| .@SantitaJ— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) January 22, 2023
13. The kids are alright. National Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde won our hearts in 2021, and this year she plans to publish two children’s books. The first is a non-fiction title called “It’s Not Bragging If It’s True: How to Be Awesome in Life,” which is due May 2, and the second is a second picture book called “Words of Wonder from Z to A,” which is set for a June publication.
Hi everyone! I would like to announce that I have 2 books coming out this summer, ??. Preorder your copies Today at ? https://t.co/vlt6ktBs7P. I hope everyone’s having a great week! pic.twitter.com/Ogwoq1mflh— Zaila Avant-garde (@ZailaAvantgarde) January 18, 2023
14. It’s time to spout off. Entrepreneur Christopher Bouzy announced the next evolution of social media, which is set to launch on the first day of Black History Month. Called Spoutible, it will be a Black-owned alternative to Twitter.
?On Feb 1, we will make history for Black history month by launching the first viable Black-owned Twitter alternative. pic.twitter.com/wfLY8whhEw— Christopher Bouzy (@cbouzy) January 26, 2023
15. A shining star. Figure skater Starr Andrews, 21, became the first Black woman to medal at the U.S. nationals in 35 years. She earned fourth place — the pewter medal — and stood on the podium, flowers in hand, with the other top finishers.
16. A future scientist. Bobbi Wilson, 9, was honored by Yale University for her efforts to eradicate the invasive spotted lanternfly species from her neighborhood. In October 2022, Bobbi was racially profiled while collecting lanternflies with a homemade repellent. The incident garnered national news attention, and Bobbi was invited to Yale to meet with other Black women scientists.
Bobbi, 9, was the subject of alleged racial profiling while working to eradicate the invasive spotted lanternfly in Oct. Last week, she was honored by @Yale. The lanternflies she donated to @yalepeabody will be forever associated with her name.— Yale School of Public Health (@YaleSPH) January 23, 2023
More: https://t.co/gWKQDzD7el pic.twitter.com/uxuLQoRSOv
17. The future of STEM. David Balogun, a 9-year-old in Pennsylvania, graduated high school. He loves science and computer programming, and he wants to be an astrophysicist to study black holes and supernovas.
Nine year old boy, David Balogun, graduates HIGH SCHOOL! Loves Computer Programming and wants to be an astrophysicist!— Danny Thompson (@DThompsonDev) February 5, 2023
Absolutely Incredible 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/hXsQec1HXk
18. In the record books. During this year’s Super Bowl, ASL interpreter Justina Miles became the first Black deaf woman to perform at the big game. She performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with Sheryl Lee Ralph during the pre-game, and, of course, with Rihanna during the halftime show.
Enjoying watching the woman doing the sign language for Rihanna at the #SuperBowl half time show having the time of her life. Her name is Justina Miles 🙌🏻pic.twitter.com/pO32nMECFv— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) February 13, 2023
19. It’s all going swimmingly. The Howard University men’s swimming and diving team, the nation’s only all-Black swim team, won the Northeast Conference championship, which was the team’s first conference title in 34 years. Separately, the team was also the first from an HBCU to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
📸 Your 2️⃣0️⃣2️⃣3️⃣ #NECswimdive Men’s Champion…— Northeast Conference (@NECsports) February 26, 2023
👉 @HUBisonSports 🏊♂️🏆 pic.twitter.com/Ka6WoLvp9x
20. College bound! Amir Staten found out he was accepted to Morehouse College — and he couldn’t contain his excitement. His mother, Karlynne Staten, took a video of him running up and down a street in his native Philadelphia, cheering and jumping in celebration. The video quickly went viral. Congratulations, Amir!
21. Electing history. Dawanna Witt was elected as the Hennepin County sheriff, making her the first Black woman to ever hold the position. Witt campaigned on her 22 years of experience in law enforcement.
👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👨🏼👩🏾— Sheriff Dawanna Witt (@SheriffWittHCSO) November 9, 2022
Thank you Hennepin County! I am honored to be elected as the 29th Sheriff of Hennepin County! #GetWittIt pic.twitter.com/Sx4mOGaIfd
22. Recognizing a superhero. Ruth Carter won an Oscar for costume design for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” She is the first Black woman to win multiple Oscars. Congratulations, Ruth!
23. Get reading! California’s Pasadena got its first Black-owned bookstore. Octavia’s Bookshelf opened in February 2023, and the Black- and woman-owned independent shop will highlight BIPOC authors.
24. Queen Brandy. Now 26 years after her groundbreaking performance as the first Black Cinderella, singer and actress Brandy is reprising her role. This time, though, she’ll be Queen Cinderella in the new Disney movie “Descendants: The Rise of Red.”
25. Writing history. Leroy Chapman Jr. was named editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, making him the first Black person to head the paper in its 155-year history. Congratulations, Editor Leroy!
#BREAKING: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has named Leroy Chapman Jr. editor-in-chief to replace Kevin Riley, who announced his retirement Thursday.@AJCLeroyChapman will be the first Black top editor in the newspaper’s 155-year history. https://t.co/UaoHgfDErv— Atlanta Journal-Constitution (@ajc) March 23, 2023
26. 50 and counting! Atlanta-area senior Daya Brown has been accepted to more than 50 colleges, wracking up over $1.3 million in scholarships. The Westlake High School Student Body President will attend Duke University in the fall. Congratulations, Daya!
27. Proving the impossible. Two New Orleans-area teens made an “impossible” math discovery, outsmarting all mathematicians from the last 2,000 years. During a presentation at the American Mathematical Society’s Annual Southeastern Conference, high school students Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson proved the Pythagorean Theorem does not require circular logic.
👊🏾 New Orleans teenagers Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson’s figured out a mathematical equation that had seemingly been impossible. Johnson and Jackson demonstrated that Pythagoras’ Theorem can be proven with trigonometry.#BlackHistory 👊🏾 pic.twitter.com/bAKDSkMVoP— 𝑼𝒏𝒂𝒃𝒂𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑹𝒂𝒘! (@AriesaSandino) March 26, 2023
28. Honoring a legend. Maryland’s Bowie State University unveiled the Dionne Warwick Theater, and the namesake was in attendance for the event. It was the first performing arts venue named in her honor.
“I do not lend my name to everything; I feel exceptionally privileged to have my name of those doors.” – Dionne Warwick speaks at the theater naming ceremony at Bowie State University pic.twitter.com/HzryAB3wrj— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 1, 2023
29. Out of this world! NASA announced its group of astronauts that will head to the moon late next year, the first group to do so in 50 years — and Victor Glover, a Black naval aviator, will be in the crew. Glover will be making a return to outer space, as he previously lived on the International Space Station.
Our #Artemis II pilot is @AstroVicGlover!— NASA (@NASA) April 3, 2023
Victor Glover is part of our 2013 class of @NASA_Astronauts and was the pilot for NASA’s @SpaceX Crew-1 mission. He’s logged 3,000 flight hours in more than 40 different aircraft, and will pilot @NASA_Orion around the Moon. pic.twitter.com/P0zJ8pwaeL
30. Put on your dancing shoes. TODAY Show anchor Sheinelle Jones rang in her 45th birthday by fulfilling a childhood dream of being a backup dancer for Janet Jackson. Jones previously dressed up as Jackson for Halloween in 2019.
31. Marvel-ous to meet you. During a trip to Disneyland, a young boy couldn’t contain his excitement when he saw Captain America, who then descended Avengers Headquarters to meet the young fan and teach him some powerful poses.
Just a little timeline cleanse: #blackboyjoy at Disneyland. My son saw Captain America and was super excited. Captain America came down and found my son just to show him some love. It was such a dope gesture and meant the world to us. Representation matters 🖤💙 pic.twitter.com/rs0RI3evae— Coke “yo candle pusha” B (@endleZZ1ove) April 21, 2023
32. Rolling in acceptances. Dennis Barnes, a New Orleans-area senior, broke U.S. records when he was accepted to 125 colleges and received more than $9 million in scholarships. Your future is bright, Dennis!
🎓🎉 Congrats to New Orleans senior Dennis Barnes who has set a NATIONAL RECORD with offers from 125 colleges totaling more than $9 million in scholarships – more than any other college bound senior in U.S. history. https://t.co/QODn2iYTYB pic.twitter.com/qnN7NCBfI6— WWL-TV (@WWLTV) April 24, 2023
33. Books can change lives. Mahogany Bookstore, a Black owned bookstore located in Washington, D.C., donated over a 100 new books to detainees in Maryland — because “Those behind bars deserve access to books too.”
34. Missy Elliott will officially be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! The Virginia-native MC will be the first woman in rap to be included. Congrats, Missy!
It’s times I have gotten on line & seen your irrelevant your a flop your washed up & it would crush me at times🥺BUT God you made me STRONG I kept going & you allowed my decades of WORK to SPEAK 4 itself🙏🏾 I am HUMBLED thank you all my Supporters💜 I LOVE YOU💜 pic.twitter.com/gkHUttWoU5— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) May 3, 2023
35. Break out the dictionary — the new one. Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. is editing the first ever Oxford Dictionary of African American English, set to publish in March 2025. The full list of 1,000 definitions is still under wraps, but 10 entries were released, including bussin, kitchen, and pat.
The first ten words of the African-American English dictionary. https://t.co/E9mdg3GQTx pic.twitter.com/741fhnVPd5— Yours in negritude, Ryan K. Smith. (@MeWeFree_) May 24, 2023