17 Times Black Americans Captivated The Nation In 2016

Despite this year's chaos, black America pushed through.

2016 has been a tumultuous year but through it all, black Americans held it down and inspired us all to persevere.

From the powerful protests against police killings to historic moments of black excellence, here are 17 of the year’s most captivating moments that put black pride on full display:

Powerful Black Lives Matter Protests Against Police Brutality
Demonstrators across the country participated in protests this year following the police killings of black men including Alton Sterling, Philando Sterling and Syville Smith. Protesters refused to be silent as they took to the street to demand accountability and declare that black lives matter.
Jesse Williams' Soul-Stirring Speech At The BET Awards
Danny Moloshok / Reuters
Jesse Williams is an actor, activist and all-around badass. In June, he delivered a riveting speech on blackness upon accepting BET's Humanitarian Award. "The thing is... that just because we’re magic does not mean we’re not real,” he said. Amen to that.
FLOTUS''s Amazing Exit Interview With Oprah
First Lady Michelle Obama sat down for an amazing interview with Oprah that aired on CBS on Monday. The sight alone of two women is enough to make us smile but listening to them talk was even more magical. We were here for all of it.
Colin Kaepernick's National Anthem Protest
Michael Zagaris via Getty Images
Colin Kaepernick surprised us all when he took a knee during the national anthem at a preseason game in August. The athlete said it was his way of protesting racial oppression in America. Since then, he has landed on the cover of Time Magazine and sparked a national dialogue on race. His activism has also inspired other young athletes to speak out against injustice.
Protester Iesha Evans' Defiant Stance Against Police Brutality
Jonathan Bachman / Reuters
Protester Ieshia Evans made headline news in July after a photo of her peaceful protest following the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana spread online. Evans, 28, is seen standing bravely and defiantly before three officers dressed in riot gear who appear to rush towards her. The picture captured a powerful moment that deserves to be seen around the world.
The Powerful Response To The Flint Water Crisis
Tragedy struck Flint, Michigan this year after high levels of lead contaminated the city's water and left many of the city's black residents pleading for help. In February, director Ryan Coogler along with other notable black influencers hosted the "Justice For Flint" event to help raise money for residents who have been affected by the water crisis. The event, which included performances from youth poets, Janelle Monae and Stevie Wonder, allowed residents to bask in a moment of love, support and celebration.
The Debut Of Fantastic Black-Led TV Shows
Black creatives have delivered some of the most riveting shows to television this year. From Ava DuVernay's "Queen Sugar" to Donald Glover's "Atlanta," black viewers have been able to enjoy stirring shows that reflect the black narrative and that are told by those who know it best.
A Powerful Mannequin Challenge On Black Lives Matter
People everywhere participated in this social media craze by standing still as a camera pans around them. While most of the videos take a comedic spin, actress, writer and director Simone Shepherd took things in a different direction by capturing a visceral experience. The result was a one-minute video, which went viral, that showed the terror of police brutality and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Simone Biles' Winning Streak At The Olympics
Dylan Martinez / Reuters
Simone Biles showed up and showed out at the the Olympics this year. Biles, who won several gold medals for her dazzling gymnastic skills, exemplified the best of black excellence and proved to the world that black girls really are magic.
Black Stars Rightfully Earn Golden Globe Nominations
This year's list of Golden Globe nominees features several black stars, all of whom are deserving of the recognition. From Tracee Ellis Ross on "black-ish" to Issa Rae on "Insecure," 2016 has been a standout year for black film and television.
Beyonce And Solange Released Albums Celebrating Pro-Blackness
Superstar sisters Beyoncé and Solange both released albums this year and while the two are entirely different stylistically, they are similar in that they deliver powerful messages on black beauty, womanhood and pride. Beyoncé reinforced this messaging by having her dancers dress as black panthers at this year's Super Bowl. More of this please!
The Release Of "Moonlight" Brought Exposure To The Black Queer Experience
Aaron Davidson via Getty Images
"Moonlight" is one of this year's most critically-acclaimed films -- and rightfully so. The film, which was directed by Barry Jenkins, powerfully explores black male sexuality and the struggles LGBTQ youth face in their communities.
Mothers Of The Movement Received A Standing Ovation At The DNC
Alex Wong via Getty Images
The mothers of black men and women who have been killed by gun violence took the stage at the Democratic National Convention in July. They spoke openly and honestly about the pain of their loss and the need for police and gun reform. They will always have our support.
Michelle Obama's Riveting Address At The DNC
Spencer Platt via Getty Images
First Lady Michelle Obama has delivered some truly remarkable speeches and her address at the Democratic National Convention in July was no different. "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves," she said onstage. "And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn...” Those words alone are enough to prompt the rise of a sea of black fists. ✊🏾
Black Americans Made Political History
STEPHEN MATUREN via Getty Images
From Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American to hold office, to Kamala Harris, the second black woman to be elected to the Senate, black politicians have rightfully earned a seat at the table this year and made history while doing so.
The Opening Of The National Museum Of African American History And Culutre
The Washington Post via Getty Images
After 100 years of challenges, the National Museum of African American History and Culture officially opened its doors in Washington D.C. in September. The museum, which is a three-tiered building that houses some of the most interesting artifacts of black history, tells the true story of America's racial past and the black leaders who fought against oppression.
The Obamas' Final Holiday Card
To mark their final Christmas in the White House, the first family was featured on a holiday card and they look as stunning as ever. We'll forever cherish this magical picture and their time in the White House.

Popular in the Community