Best of 2021: The Most-Read News Stories Of The Year

This year has been a long and eventful one. From the Capitol Attacks to the Biden-Harris Inauguration, to voting rights, to police reform, to the continuation of the coronavirus global pandemic, ESSENCE was there to cover it all. Check out a few of the most talked about news stories that ESSENCE covered this year.

1 Here’s Everyone On The Black Billionaire List Now

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 02: Rihanna arrives at The Fashion Awards 2019 held at Royal Albert Hall on December 02, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

There is much deserved criticism about capitalism and its inevitable adverse effects on the Black community. There is also a level of pride when witnessing a Black person transcend to billionaire status. In 2021, the number of billionaires on the planet skyrocketed from 660 to 2,755; only 15 of them are Black.

2 Two Alabama Amazon Workers Died Hours Apart After Denied Sick-Leave, Workers Speak Out

Amazon Fulfillment Services DYB3 in Nisku. On Wednesday, December 22, 2021, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Two Alabama Amazon workers teamed up with workers’ rights organization More Perfect Union on behalf of two deceased co-workers that were denied sick-leave at a Bessmer, Alabama warehouse. The workers believe Amazon is covering up the deaths. A total of six employees have died from that facility. It was also found that Amazon illegally interfered with a vote to unionize at the same location.    

3 Author Eric Jerome Dickey Has Died At 59

The loss of author, Eric Jerome Dickey was a very difficult one. Since the ‘90s the New York Times bestselling writer ruled over many Black book clubs with notable works like Sister, Sister and Friends & Lovers. Dickey’s books undoubtedly expanded the lens of Black women characters in literature. 

4 Singer Kelly Price Is Allegedly Missing; Legal Rep Says She’s Safe And Recovering From COVID-19

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – SEPTEMBER 05: Singer Kelly Price performs onstage during 2019 Black Music Honors at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on September 05, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Black Music Honors)

In late July, singer Kelly Price shared with fans on Instagram that she had tested positive for Covid. Then, two months later, she was reported as missing after a welfare check was conducted at her home. Thankfully, in a strange twist of events, the singer’s legal representation reported her safe and still recovering at an undisclosed location six days later. 

5 Ohio Cops Yell ‘Blue Lives Matter’ After Fatally Shooting 16-Year-Old Ma’Khia Bryant

COLUMBUS, OH- APRIL, 21: A vigil is held at a park on April 21, 2021 for 16-year-old MaKhia Bryant who was killed by a Columbus police officer. (Photo by Maddie McGarvey/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

As the world waited with bated breath for a guilty verdict in the George Floyd murder trial in Minnesota, news spread of another cop killing a Black teen in Ohio. Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, was seen on video, wielding a knife for protection against the group of people that had come to confront her. She was shot four times by the police officers that she had called herself. In more video footage police officers on the scene allegedly shouted “Blue Lives Matter” to a group of shocked residents at the scene. Bryant’s death was another stark reminder that there is still so much more work to be done against police violence.  

6 Debbie Allen Offers Words Of Support To Howard Protestors As Phylicia Rashad Attempts To Cut Off Questions


Students at Howard University kicked off the semester with #BlackburnTakeover, protesting the dormitory living conditions on campus. The petition cited crumbling ceilings, brown water, black mold, and a slew of other harmful building issues and DC health code violations. Reports caught beloved alum sister-duo Debbie Allen and a then newly appointed dean of Chadwick A. Boseman School of Fine Arts, Phylicia Rashad for comment. While Allen noted in support, “In any country when the students don’t speak out, the nation is not doing well,” Rashad said that the students’ demands were being met. The protest lasted 34 days.

7 Denzel Washington Family Foundation Commits $1 Million to Support HBCU in Texas

US actor Denzel Washington attends the Los Angeles Premiere of “The Tragedy of Macbeth” at the Directors Guild of America Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on December 16, 2021. (Photo by LISA O’CONNOR / AFP) (Photo by LISA O’CONNOR/AFP via Getty Images)

Two-time Oscar winner, Denzel Washington is no stranger to giving back. The Denzel Washington Family Foundation made its first $1 million pledge to Wiley College—depicted in the film “The Great Debaters”—back in 2007, and continued donating $100,000 each year for a decade. In a press release, the foundation resumed its commitment in 2018 and its funds were then used to help recruit new debate members and offer them scholarships. 

8 California Returns Bruce’s Beach To Black Family 100 Years After It Was Stolen From Them

Photo by Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Back in 1912, Black entrepreneurs Willa and Charles Bruce purchased the land for the beachfront property. Shortly after, Los Angeles County stripped them of the land using underhanded tactics and local officials. Governor Newsom apologized on the state’s behalf to the Bruce family’s descendants.  

9 Modern-Day Slavery Operation Uncovered In Georgia, Feds Say

Earlier in December an unsealed indictment revealed [that] several federal law enforcement agencies uncovered one of the largest cases of human trafficking and visa fraud in the U.S. Through fraudulent work visa petitions those involved were able to bring foreign nationals into the country for temporary agricultural work. The workers were allegedly “illegally forced to do lawn care, construction, and restaurant work; and others were threatened with violence or deportation.” They were also “held in cramped, unsanitary quarters and fenced work camps with little or no food, limited plumbing and without safe water.”

10  Year-Old Girl Kalana Johnson Missing For Over A Week After Traveling To Atlanta

Photo via Facebook

The recent increase of missing Black women and girls is alarming. Back in October, ESSENCE reported Kalana Johnson, a 15-year-old girl from Georgia missing. She traveled to Atlanta by bus to visit friends and was last seen on October 18. She was later found safe on October 30.


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