1. DOWN FOR THE COUNT

The lead-up to the 2020 elections will no doubt be a challenging time in our country’s history. But as America prepares to choose its next president, activist and advocacy groups and other organizations are coming on strong with reminders—and warnings —that the 2020 census is also important.

Being counted in the once-every-decade poll determines everything from the number of congressional representatives a state has to the amount of federal funding that goes to local communities. Regardless of circumstance, Black people must make sure they are accounted for. Go to census.gov for more information.

2. AUDRE’S LEGACY

Audre Lorde once described herself as a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior poet” and used her writing to push back against injustice. That makes it only fitting that Spelman College has created a chair in queer studies and named it in honor of the famed feminist. The first-ever chair of its kind at an HBCU will be made possible through a $2 million fundraising effort to be matched by philanthropist Jon Stryker.

3. NETWORK NEWS FOR US

January 2020 marks the launch of a news network created for us. The Black News Channel (BNC), cofounded by former Republican congressman J.C. Watts, will offer 24/7 updates on culturally specific affairs and air three-hour live newscasts and personality-hosted shows. The channel will debut in New York City, L.A. and Atlanta and will be available on streaming video services that offer live linear programming.

4. USVI RENAISSANCE

More than two years after the powerful category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria left a path of destruction through the American territories of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, the USVI Department of Tourism is touting a strong rebound for the Caribbean islands. Officials note a nearly 50 percent increase in stay-over visits last year. St. Thomas alone reportedly saw an increase of about 70 percent in 2018.

5. PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT

New research led by physicians at UC Berkeley and Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows that care for some of our most in-need patients is decided in part by an algorithm that systematically advantages White Americans over Blacks.

In analyzing the records of a major U.S. hospital, researchers found that it allowed Whites to be admitted into special programs for chronic illnesses like diabetes and kidney complications ahead of Blacks with similar health issues.

6. “If someone had asked me to define freedom 50 years ago, I would have said, ‘We have to free the Black man.’ And now it’s so much more complicated, precisely as a result of the wonderful activism and scholarship.”
—ANGELA DAVIS, POLITICAL ACTIVIST

7. HONORING TONI

Nearly three months after the passing of acclaimed author and scholar Toni Morrison, U.S. senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) worked closely with the Ohio native’s loved ones to honor her life and work. A resolution, which was passed in the Senate on the eve of National Author Day, expresses deep appreciation for her “uncensored exploration of race” and the “enduring impact” of her endeavors on the United States.

8. UPWARD AND ONWARD

A new report on income mobility at HBCUs, conducted by the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University, proves that they help further upward mobility for their alumni, many of whom are from low-income backgrounds. Even though a large number of these students come from disadvantaged families, 70 percent attain middle-class incomes after graduating. This feat outpaced that of graduates from similar economic backgrounds who attended predominantly White institutions.

9. A SAFE SPACE

LeBron James is the real MVP—not just because of his skills on the court but also because of his dedication to his hometown of Akron. In the fall of 2018, the L.A. Lakers star opened up the I Promise School, which is successfully closing the achievement gap in the city.

Now the education philanthropist is renovating a historic apartment building near the institution to serve as safe housing for the students and their families, providing necessary stability as they study.

10. A WIN FOR OUR WOMBS

Nearly a year after New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal to expand access to infertility treatments as part of his 2019 Women’s Justice Agenda, the new mandate is taking effect. As of January 1, 2020, all large group insurance providers will be required to cover IVF services in the state.

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