(Photo/Aliaksey Dobrolinski_Shutterstock)

We’ve crossed the threshold of one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and while we’ve lost many on the way, we have also come into a deeper appreciation of life and our loved ones. 

“A year later, I am amazed at how my mask collection has grown. I have to leave some in my home and car because there are still signs on the doors of stores saying you must wear a mask to enter. At some point you wonder “when will this end?”. Every day is a roller coaster because you’re happy and at a high to hear good news, but then at a low because with good news comes bad news. “Yay we have vaccines, but we don’t have enough for everyone who wants one.” In 2021, all I can say is I’m happy to have my family and their strength because that has gotten me through this past year.”

  • Kelsi Chapman, AFRO graphic designer


“A year later, I’m reflecting on all that was lost and all that we’ve uncovered about our essential selves during this pandemic. I’m not interested in a return to “normal.” I hope we’ll integrate all of the new knowledge and skills we’ve gathered during this unprecedented year into a more equitable future for our country and our world. Huge topics like climate change mitigation, racial justice, mutual aid, mental health care and more, are ripe for reinvention. This global reset has shown us that change is possible if we have the will to see it through.” 

  • Savannah Wood, director of AFRO Archives and AFRO Charities


“This past year, grappling with the scourge of COVID-19, has been a gift and a curse. Of the more than 500,000 Americans dead, I’ve lost people very close to me and that’s a tragedy of course. But, many blessings have come during this year of isolation and a lot of personal spiritual clarity. I just thank God for protection and I pray the worst of this scourge is finally over.”

  • Sean Yoes, AFRO senior reporter


“I am feeling a mixture of emotions. I’m thankful for employment and good health, but it saddens me that over half a million people of all age ranges and ethnicities have died. I wish that the Trump administration would have taken the virus more seriously because I think that we would be a lot further in the recovery/reopening process than we are now, and it could have literally saved lives. But, I am thankful for the resiliency of the American people, specifically POC because we went through hell and back last year and we are still standing.”

  • Jessica Dortch, AFRO news editor


“What a difference a year makes. A year ago today I taught one of my last in-person visual art classes with Baltimore City Public Schools. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to live through everything I had recently read about the 1918 pandemic in the AFRO archives. In fact, the archives prepared me for what I was about to witness: People getting sick by the thousands, people trying to escape quarantine, people fighting a virus and a war. I am deeply saddened by the lives sacrificed to get this country feeling “great again” and keep it running. It is not nearly enough to thank the countless grocery store workers, mail couriers, trash men, nurses and teachers who became heroes- and in too many cases, martyrs. Given the few options facing so many, I am humbled and thankful for jobs that allowed me to work virtually for so long. I am thankful for my health and for the health of my family. And now I am patiently waiting for my second vaccination shot.”

  • Alexis Taylor, AFRO writer 


This has been a year like no other, a year filled with sadness, sickness, protests and a killer pandemic. I mourn the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to COVID, as well as the spotlight (once again) on the systems and structures that reinforce the maltreatment and abuse of Black people throughout this country. I grieve for those families who didn’t have the resources to provide safe spaces for their children to learn. I lament the closings of so many businesses, the high unemployment rate and those who are subject to eviction once the stay orders are lifted.  Yet, I celebrate the genius of those who developed life saving vaccines. I celebrate the election of the first African American vice president, who happens to be female. I celebrate the much-needed conversations on diversity, equity and inclusion. I celebrate the essential workers, the ones who rarely get a “thank you,” for doing their jobs with excellence, in the midst of  COVID.  And, I celebrate small businesses like the AFRO who not only survived, but found ways to thrive, during  the pandemic. Most of all, I thank God for His grace and mercy.  Things will never be the same, nor should we expect them to be. We have learned so much during this pandemic, and I pray that we will not return to “business as usual” but will learn to work together to make a real difference for all people in Baltimore and beyond.  

  • Frances “Toni” Draper, AFRO publisher & CEO 


“I’ve been lonely. I’ve felt spaces were too crowded. I’ve enjoyed moments of solitude and yearned to be around the people I love. But, we’ve learned how to connect without physical touch and in-person interactions in such a beautiful way.This has been an incredibly complicated year.  It is a blessing to have my health, family, friends and employment. God’s blessings have been abundant. I am forever grateful for all this year taught me and provided. In 2020 I asked for clear vision, in 2021 I ask that God clear the path for peace, joy and continued health and blessings. When more than half a million Americans lost their lives to COVID-19, may we all declare with thanksgiving, ‘we’re still here!’”

  • Micha Green, AFRO Washington D.C. and digital content editor