2009 Year in Review: News

President Obama’s Was Inaugurated

On that frigid January morning, an estimated 1.8 million people traveled to the nation’s capital to witness the inauguration of America’s first Black president. President Obama captured the sentiment of the moment, saying “This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed…why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath,”

Chris Brown and Rihanna

On that fateful February night R&B sweethearts Chris Brown and Rihanna had just returned from a pre-Grammy event when Brown assaulted his then girlfriend. He later pleaded guilty to one charge of felony assault and was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to stay 50 yards away from Rihanna. Both have since released albums featuring songs shaped by what took place the night of February 8th, 2009.

Michael Steele Became the First Republican Chairman

Former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele became the first African American Republican National Committee Chairman in January 2009. “I’m proud to say I’m a conservative, have been, always will be,” Steele told CNN the month he was elected. Of President Obama he said, “President Obama’s election was a significant milestone for African-Americans and certainly a symbol of hope and unlimited possibility for America.”

The Great Recession and Unemployment

Though we had already been feeling it, the National Bureau of Economic Research did not make an official announcement of the recession until December 1, 2008. By the time President Obama was inaugurated the unemployment rate was 7.9%. Perhaps no group felt the sign of the times more than African American men who, at 17%, had an unemployment rate similar to the Great Depression. On February 17, President Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus package to boost the economy. By November 2009 the unemployment rate was 10%.

President Obama Hosted A Beer Summit

In perhaps the most talked about arrest of the summer of 2009, Cambridge, Mass. police Sgt. James Crowley responded to a suspected break-in at the home of renowned African American scholar Professor Henry Louis Gates. Tempers flared, words were exchanged. Professor Gates was hauled off in handcuffs. President Obama said the officer “acted stupidly.” To make amends the President invited both men to the White House to talk over a beer.

Michael Jackson Died

Voted the top entertainment story of 2009 only President Obama’s inauguration rivaled the pressattention garnered by Michael Jackson’s death. Just three months after announcing his final world tour in London, MJ died on June 25, 2009 at age 50. His memorial in July 2009 was a star-studded affair watched by millions around the world.

Anthony Sowell Murdered 11 AA Women in Four Years

Cleveland police discovered the decomposing bodies of 11 African American women at the home of registered sex offender Anthony Sowell. He was charged with five counts of aggravated murder and has entered an insanity plea.

There Was An Outbreak of the H1N1 Flu Virus

Mexican authorities first noticed strains of the swine flu in early March 2009. By April nearly 54 people had died from the strain. On April 30, eleven countries reported cases of the swine flu. By the middle of the summer of 2009 nearly 160 cases of swine flu were reported.

Derrion Albert Was Brutally Killed

The 16-year-old Chicago honor roll student’s brutal killing was captured on video and sparked outrage across the country. It also reignited a conversation about violence amongst Black youth. President Obama dispatched Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Albert’s school to meet with students and community members.

Shaniya Davis Was Tragically Murdered

Shaniya Davis was tragically murdered after her mother Antoinette Davis was accused of trafficking the five-year-old to settle drug debts. At her funeral, Bradley Lockhart, Shaniya’s father went to the edge of her casket and said, “Shaniya, Daddy loves you honey. And I know you’re gonna’ be waiting for me…I’ll see you when I get there.”

Sammy Sosa Revealed His Lighter Skin

Baseball hall of famer Sammy Sosa arrived at the Latin Grammy Awards in November with skin considerably lighter than his usual mocha complexion, causing everyone from dermatologists to news pundits to discuss the politics of skin color. Sosa is said to be in talks to become the spokesperson for the unidentified cream he used to lighten his skin.

Tareq and Michaele Salahi ‘Crashed’ The White House

Reality show contenders Michaele and Tareq Salahi talked their way to the Obama administration’s first official state dinner in honor of the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The House Committee on Homeland Security approved a motion to subpoena the couple for crashing the dinner but the Salahi’s will will be invoking their right to plead the fifth. The Salahi’s maintain they were in fact invited to the dinner though they will not disclose who their contact was.

President Obama Won the Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel committee awarded President Barack Obama the Peace Prize just 10 months into his presidency, citing his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” President Obama plans to give away his $1.4 million prize to charity. He is the third sitting U.S. president to receive the prize.

President Obama Increased Troops To Afghanistan

In a much-anticipated address to the nation President Obama laid out his plan for sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. “I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said. “I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions.”

Tiger Woods Had ‘Transgressions’

A car accident outside the home of billion dollar athlete Tiger Woods let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. Within weeks, over a dozen women had come forth claiming to have had an affair with the married father of two. He is now taking an “indefinite break” from golf and has lost many of his endorsement deals. And everyone is waiting to see whether wife Elin Nordegren will divorce him.

Chris Henry Died In A Fatal Accident

The Cincinnati Bengals football player was tragically killed after falling from the back of a truck driven by his fiancee Loleini Tonga. The 26-year-old wide receiver was taking steps to change his life after a rough start in the NFL–five arrests and numerous suspensions–and was planning to marry the mother of his two children, Tonga.

The Health Care Bill Was Approved

President Obama came into office as a champion of health care reform. On December 21, 2009, the senate signed it into reality. The bill extends insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans.