ESSENCE's Year in Pictures

Every year is filled with indelible images — and 2012 was no different, with so many moments captured on camera that help us reflect on the past 12 months of Black life and culture. As we gear up to say "over and out" to 2012, takes a look back at the year in pictures.

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Gabby Douglas was the standout star from the Summer Olympics in London. The 16-year-old gymnast won a gold medal in the team all-around competition, and then made history by becoming the first African-American to win gold in the women’s individual all-around finals in August.

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President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama with Malia and Sasha

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Tracy and Sybrina Fulton

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Superstar Beyonce and music mogul Jay-Z welcomed their first child into the world on January 7. The proud mommy was all smiles when she debuted her bundle of joy, daughter Blue Ivy Carter, in a picture on her Tumblr page in February.

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The coffin holding the remains of singer Whitney Houston is carried to a hearse after funeral services at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. in February.

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Ledisi shined onstage during her Saturday night performance at the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival in July. 

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President Barack Obama embraced First Lady Michelle Obama after she introduced him at a campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa on November 2nd. The commander-in-chief shared this moment again after his re-election victory to his Twitter followers with the caption, "Four more years."

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Not even Halle Berry was safe from the green goop at Nickelodeon’s 25th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards. The Oscar-winning actress got slimed at the event in April.

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Robin Roberts, with Diane Sawyer and her sister Sally-Ann Roberts, announced she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as pre-leukemia, on Good Morning America. The morning show host revealed her plans to undergo chemo and a bone marrow transplant as “pretreatment” for the disease, and that her sister would be the sole donor in June. 

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Jennifer Hudson performed "I Will Always Love You" as a touching tribute to the late Whitney Houston at the 54th annual GRAMMY Awards in February.

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Oprah Winfrey sat down with 19-year-old Bobbi Kristina Brown for her first one-on-one interview after the death of her mother Whitney Houston. The interview earned the OWN network its highest ratings with 3.5 million viewers in March.

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Beyonce stepped out for her first appearance after having daughter Blue Ivy Carter in a form-fitting, red dress. Only a month after giving birth, the new mother looked just as stunning as ever in Febuary.

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The First Lady showed off her moves on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in February.

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President Barack Obama sat on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum following an event in Dearborn, Michigan in April.

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Kim Wayans, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Tommy Davidson, T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh, Kelly Coffield Park, Carrie Ann Inaba and Jim Carrey of In Living Color posed for a picture on Good Morning America prior to the 10th Annual TV Land Awards in April.

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Viola Davis debuts her natural hair on the cover of LA Times magazine in February. 

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ESSENCE cover stars Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade celebrated the New Year together at the Remy V New Years Eve dinner at Vesper American Brasserie in Miami.

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Alek Wek flaunted designs by Philip Treacy at London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013 in September. 

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The ESSENCE Music Festival artist took over as our special guest editor in June.

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Beyoncé rocked the Revel Resort & Casino stage in her first performance after giving birth to her daughter Blue Ivy in May.

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Nia Long was all smiles when she was spotted out in Los Angeles with her new bundle of joy, Kez Sunday Udoka, in January.  

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President Barack Obama poses with students from the Daughter of Zion Junior Academy after a campaign rally at the Delray Beach Tennis Club in Florida this October. Check out the little boy planting a kiss on the girl in the back row.

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Savannah Brinson, fiancee of LeBron James, posed for a picture with her engagement ring during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at American Airlines Arena in Miami in January.

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Grace Jones performed during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace in London. The star-studded, musical extravaganza came on the third of four days of celebrations to honor Queen Elizabeth II in June. 

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Shonda Rimes is the mastermind behind shows like Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and Private Practice. The screenwriter, director and producer was crowned by the president of Disney-ABC Television group Anne Sweeney at the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in February. 

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Angela Bassett embraces Bishop T.D. Jakes during his 35 Years of Ministry Celebration in Dallas, Texas in June.

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Serena Williams jumped for joy as she advanced to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. She went on to win the US Open, Wimbledon and two gold medals in the Summer Olympics in July. 

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Allyson Felix celebrated winning her gold medal in the Women’s 200m Final on day 12 of the Summer Olympic Games in August. 

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Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete re-exchanged their vows at The Empire State Building after 17 years of marriage in February. 

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Idris Elba arrived for a state dinner in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House in March.

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Alicia Keys vacationed with her son Egypt in Hawaii in January. 

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Octavia Spencer won the Best Supporting Actress Award for The Help during the 84th Annual Academy Awards in Febuary.

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Mariah Carey and little Moroccan and Monroe enjoyed bonding time in the pool in September. 

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Rihanna sizzled in the Hawaii surf as she showed off her red-hot body in May. 

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Shemar Moore rode his a bike for the W South beach three-year anniversary in Miami Beach in July. 

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Raven-Symoné made her Broadway debut in Sister Act in March. 

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President Barack Obama comforted Hurricane Sandy victim Dana Vanzant as he visited a neighborhood in Brigantine, New Jersey in November. 

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ESSENCE Music Festival headliner Aretha Franklin received an honorary Doctorate of Music during Princeton University’s commencement in June.

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Four years after secretly marrying, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon said "I do" all over again. The parents of twins Moroccan and Monroe Cannon renwed their vows at a ceremony in Paris in April. 

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Hollywood A-Listers posed at the Grey Goose pre-Oscar dinner hosted by Alfre Woodard to honor African-American women in film in February. 

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Chaka Khan showed off her 60-pound weight loss during a stellar performance at the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival in July. 

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Barack Obama gave his wife Michelle a kiss during an exhibition game against Brazil at the Verizon Center in July. 

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Kelly Rowland shot a video with Project B for the song "Summer Dreaming 2012" in Barcelona, Spain in June. 

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Cissy Houston performed a tear-jerking tribute to her late daughter Whitney Houston during the 2012 BET Awards in Los Angeles in July.

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Jamaica’s Usain Bolt won the gold at the Men’s 100m final during the London 2012 Olympics in August. 

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Tamera Mowry showed off her baby bump with twin sister Tia at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards back in July. She gave birth to son Aden on November 12.

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First Lady Michelle Obama electrified the crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina with her speech on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in September.

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President Barack Obama and daughters Malia (L) and Sasha (R)

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Lionel Richie and Muhammad Ali posed for a picture backstage during Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night XIII in Phoenix, Arizona in March. 

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Jennifer Hudson walked the runway at the Project Runway Spring 2013 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City in September. 

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Diana Ross and her five children attended the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles this February. The legendary diva was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. 

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Solange Knowles and her 8-year-old son, Juelz, had a good time at the Stella McCartney Spring 2012 presentation in New York City in June. 

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President Barack Obama chatted with Jay-Z and Beyonce at their fundraiser at the 40/40 club in New York City. The power couple raised more than $4 million for the President's re-election campaign in September.

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After being away from the music scene for almost 12 years, R&B singer D’Angelo made his big comeback as the headliner of the Friday night show at the ESSENCE Music Festival in New Orleans in July. 

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Toni Morrison laughed with President Barack Obama before she was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in May. The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. 

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Olympic star Gabby Douglas had such a standout year that Michelle Obama had to congratulate her achievements. Here, the First Lady and two-time gold medalist high five during at chat with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show in August.

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Tameka Foster and Naviyd Raymond alongside the casket of her son Kile Glover after his funeral at the Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta. Eleven-year-old Kile Glover was the son of Foster and Ryan Glover, and the stepson of Usher. Doctors removed Kile Glover from life support on July 21st. He was injured on July 6th at Lake Lanier when he was hit by a jet ski while swimming.

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Prince debuted a new song and new 'fro during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in Septemeber.

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Will Smith posed with Samba dancers during his Men in Black III photo call in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in February.

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Viola Davis planted a kiss on her husband of nine years, Julius Tennon, as she left the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills in February.

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Beyoncé Knowles looked stunning in the body-revealing gown by Givenchy that she wore to the “Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations” Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in May.

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Solange Knowles had an amazing year, and one of the things she'll definitely be remembered for is her style. When is comes to fashion, the singer-songwriter is always winning  a great example is her look on the amfAR Milano red carpet during Milan Fashion Week at La Permanente in September. 

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Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers showed off his stunning smile on Jimmy Kimmel Live in June. 

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Kelly Rowland performed at the 3rd annual ESSENCE Black Women in Music event in Los Angeles. The event saluted the Grammy-nominated singer, as well as music industry veteran Sylvia Rhone in Febraury.

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Will Smith gave his daughter Willow a kiss during the ‘The Next Ten Years In The Fight Against Human Trafficking: Attacking The Problem With The Right Tools’ committee hearing in Washington, DC in July. The Smith family has been active in their fight against human trafficking. In the September issue of ESSENCE, Jada Pinkett Smith revealed it was Willow who encouraged her to work to raise awareness against the cause.

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama know how the show up to an event in style! The first couple walked into the North Portico of the White House before attending the state dinner in March. 

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OWN and launched Oprah’s Thank You Game on Facebook to spread gratitude around the world in May. She wrote, “I’d like to thank Andre Walker, who for 27 years has nourished and taken care of my hair and is himself a beautiful person inside and out. Never a diva moment, not even a complaint, never late, and never missed a day of work in TWENTY SEVEN years!” 

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Halle Berry visited the Beverly HIlls Farmers Market after lunch at Fig & Olive with her 4-year-old daughter Nahla and fiance Olivier Martinez in August. 


President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House to remember the September 11th terrorist attacks. 

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Kimora Lee Simmons showed off her shoes during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City in September. 

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President Barack Obama wiped away tears as he thanked members of his campaign staff and volunteers after his re-election victory in November. 

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Kevin Hart blew out 33 candles! The comedian celebrated his birthday at the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival in July. 

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About a month after her bone marrow transplant, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts returned to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center with her sisters in Manhattan in October. 

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Queen Latifah struck a pose in her animal print kaftan with friends as they prepared to depart from Club 55 in St. Tropez in July. 

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Serena Williams and Venus Williams celebrated on the podium after receiving gold medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the women’s doubles tennis tournament in Wimbledon in August. 

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Rihanna turned heads in a stunning yellow dress during a shooting for a Barbados tourism campaign on the east coast of the Caribbean island in August. 

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Yolanda Adams and CeCe Winans performed at the "We Will Always Love You: A GRAMMY Salute To Whitney Houston" at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles in October. 

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Kerry Washington had a good year with her hit show, Scandal, and she clearly knows the difference between real and fake politics. She scheduled time to hit the road with the Barack Obama campaign to encourage early voting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in November. 

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Alicia Keys performed "Girl on Fire" with special appearances by Nicki Minaj and Gabby Douglas at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards in September.

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Bobbi Kristina and Nick Gordon

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Frank Ocean's debut studio album Channel Orange quickly climbed the Billboard charts, and his performance of lead single "Thinking About You" at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards had everyone talking in September. 

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President Barack Obama was fired up at the second of three presidential debates against Republican nominee Mitt Romney in October.

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Solange Knowles looked stunning with silky, straight tresses at the American Ballet Theatre opening night at the New York City Center Gala in October.

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Tia Mowry made a new friend in Steimie, a 21-year-old bottlenose dolphin, during her visit to SeaWorld San Diego in October.

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Naomie Harris made a fashion statement at the Royal world premiere of Skyfall at Royal Albert Hall in London in October. 

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Barack Obama

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Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles had fun courtside at the Toronto Raptors vs Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York in November.

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Stevie Wonder warmed up the crowd during a campaign rally for President Barack Obama at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio in November. 

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First Lady Michelle Obama was all smiles as she walked out to preview the White House Christmas decorations in November.

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Rihanna's music, style and fun personailty keeps the world watching in fascination. Her awe-inspiring performance on The X-Factor Live results show in November was an example of her continuously-growing artistry.