We’re celebrating all of the good news happening and the inspiring Black folk creating positive change in our communities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Play today’s puzzle here:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
36. Game on! Tiana is a 12-year-old aspiring sports reporter. Business card in hand, the budding journalist watched a WNBA game court side with her future colleagues. Great work, Tiana!
37. Funding futures. Late philanthropist Jacqueline Avant has a new piece to her legacy: The Jacqueline Avant Children and Family Center. The Los Angeles center provides physical and mental health services to underserved youth. Thank you, Jacqueline!
38. For the culture. Want to see more Black-made and Black-featured TV shows and movies? Enter Mansa, a free-streaming service that offers a curated selection of global Black culture. Get the popcorn ready!
39. Professor Abrams. Activist, author, former gubernatorial candidate — and now professor. Stacey Abrams will join Howard University in fall 2023 as the inaugural Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics. Where do we sign up?
40. Archiving history. A partnership between the HBCU Library Alliance and Harvard University will help HBCUs digitize their libraries, ultimately preserving massive African American history collections held in HBCU libraries and archives nationwide.
41. Way to go, Alexis! Serena Williams’ daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr, is now the youngest owner of two sports teams. At just five years old, Oymipia is reportedly a part-owner of the women’s soccer team Angel City FC and The Los Angeles Golf Club.
42. If it’s Sunday… Kristen Welker, a prominent NBC News journalist, will soon be the host of the popular Sunday show “Meet the Press.” Welker will be the second woman and first Black journalist to moderate the show. Congratulations, Kristen!
43. Cemented in history. Long overdue, Tupac Shakur finally got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His sister Sekyiwa “Set” Shakur accepted the star on his behalf.
44. Big moves. Maj. Gen. Janeen Birckhead became the sole Black woman National Guard leader. Maj. Gen. Birckhead is now the top military official in Maryland and was appointed by the country’s only Black governor, Wes Moore. Thank you for your service!
45. Reading hero. LeVar Burton is celebrating 40 years of Reading Rainbow. The iconic PBS show first aired in June 1983, and filmed 155 episodes across 21 seasons. Thank you, LeVar!
46. Visibility matters. The Recording Academy announced three new categories for the 66th GRAMMY Awards, and one is Best African Music Performance. We’re so excited to see, hear, and celebrate all of the nominees.
47. Something’s cookin’. Ebony magazine’s vintage test kitchen just found its new permanent home: The National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was at risk of demolition in 2018, and now museum-goers will be able to see (and almost taste) the iconic set.
48. Unvarnished history. The first International African American History Museum opened its doors in Charleston, South Carolina. The museum is built on sacred ground — Gadsden’s Wharf, where an estimated 45% of enslaved Africans entered the United States. Plan your visit soon!
49. Lifesavers. Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills football player who went into cardiac arrest during a game, presented the team’s training staff with the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2023 ESPYS for their life-saving actions.
50. Funding clean futures. Through her firm Public Ventures, Zoey Dash McKenzie launched a $100 million impact fund to invest in founders who want to save Black communities from climate change.
51. Better, not back. Two years after being suspended for a violation — and losing the chance to compete at the Tokyo Olympics — track star Sha’Carri Richardson won the 100-meter title at the U.S. championships. In a post-race interview, Richardson said, “I’m not back, I’m better.”
52. Record-setter. Tennis player Christopher Eubanks didn’t win at Wimbledon, but he did set a record. He hit 321 winners in a single championship, breaking a record from the 90’s. The future is bright for the 27-year-old tennis star!
53. Money moves. Sean Tresvant is now the CEO of Taco Bell, the first Black man to hold the position in the company’s 61-year history. And we can thank him for bringing back the Mexican pizza.
55. No (re)introduction needed. The Brooklyn Public Library unveiled a surprise exhibit honoring the life and legacy of Jay-Z. It features images, art, and other artifacts from throughout his life. The exhibit coincides with the ongoing celebration for the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
56. GOAT behavior. In her first competition two years after withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics, Simone Biles earned first place at the Core Hydration Classic (formerly the U.S. Classic). Her score qualified her for the U.S. Championships. Welcome back, Simone!
57. Limitless. Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers are living their dreams — and breaking barriers. As members of the Virgin Galactic civilian crew heading to space, the two women will be both the first mother-daughter duo to leave the Earth’s atmosphere together and the first Caribbean astronauts in space. Turns out the sky isn’t the limit!