With the year closing out, ESSENCE is recognizing the top political moments of 2021. And the common theme is, no surprise, Black women. From fighting for voting rights to laying the groundwork in Georgia to elect the first Black senator, Black women were organizing on the ground to get things done. Here’s what was on our radar this year.

1. Black women lead the fight to elect the first Black senator from Georgia.

Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Georgia’s demographics are changing, and it’s making a difference at the voting booths. After a battle in the 2020 election, Black women organizers kept the fight going to increase voter engagement. Largely through their efforts Georgia sent two Democrats, Jon Osoff and Rapahel Warnock, to the Senate. Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, is the first Black senator to represent the peach state. 

2. All hail the queen…or not.

Photo by John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Barbados gained its independence from Great Britain, removing Queen Elizabeth from the Head of State of the island nation. Two Black women now lead the state. Its government elected Sandra Mason to be the president, and Mia Mottley has served as the prime minister since 2018. 

3. Black Lives Matter is still putting in the work, despite much fewer protests against violent policing this year. 

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND – JULY 05: In an aerial view from a drone, a large-scale ground mural depicting Breonna Taylor with the text ‘Black Lives Matter’ is seen being painted at Chambers Park on July 5, 2020 in Annapolis, Maryland. The mural was organized by Future History Now in partnership with Banneker-Douglass Museum and The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. The painting honors Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by members of the Louisville Metro Police Department in March 2020. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

As coronavirus continued to rage and those stimmies were drying up, The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and Black Lives Matter Grassroots gave $3 million to Black households who have been financially crippled by the pandemic.  

4. Policing protests declined, but Black people were still in the streets and at the Capitol fighting for voting rights.  

The federal government is still struggling to pass legislation to challenge voter suppression laws popping up around the country. But Black folks aren’t backing down. For the anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington, several groups teamed up in August to demand passage of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act 

5. The children will be alright. After over a month of protest, Howard University students reach an agreement to address its housing issues. 

For 34 days, starting on October 12, students slept in tents outside the HBCU’s Blackburn Center, raising awareness about issues with mold, pest control, and other safety issues. They announced a legal agreement with the administration on November 15.  Gen Z is really putting in the work!