MADE Legends Edition - Page 74

MADE NOW This could be considered the overarching mantra of 2016, as young people on college campuses like the University of Missouri, and in urban centers all across the country took to the streets in 2016 in attempts to make their voices heard with respect to racist incidents, police harassment and the unwarranted use of deadly force against African American victims, among myriad other issues germane to them—and to all Americans. Even Black Lives Matter, once an untethered national network of black liberation organizations which was established in 2012—and the banner under which youth protests and violence were carried out in many cities over those years minus any unified agenda, objective or coordination—began to take steps beyond a hashtag, and to actually resemble a movement. BLM finally developed and announced a platform in 2016, for the first time listing a slate of specific demands, and professional, collegiate and high school athl etes alike took a stand on the issue of race by kneeling during their games’ playing of the national anthem—though none reportedly went as far as to refuse to play. Black girls’ lives also mattered a bit more, too, this year, with the quiet release of 21 of the 270 Chibook boarding school girls to Nigerian government authorities by the militant group, Boko Haram. The story regrettably failed to garner the degree of international attention that it did when they were forcibly taken by the soldiers in 2014, sparking the celeb-driven #BringBackOurGirls campaign and similar efforts. 4. TRANSITIONS. Noteworthy African Americans from the realms of the arts, sports and social justice sadly departed this life in 2016, with the untimely passing of superstar musician, singer-songwriter, producer, bandleader and actor Prince, who died April 21st; three-time world heavyweight boxing champion and outspoken activist Muhammad Ali, who died June 23rd and political activist-businesswoman Afeni Shakur, mother of late, legendary Hip-Hop performer Tupac Shakur, who transitioned May 2nd. May their souls rest in peace. 5. OLYMPIC-SIZED PERFORMANCES. The 2016 Olympics, held in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, was predicted by some smug Western media organizations as a looming failure for the so-called “third-world” country. But Brazil proved its naysayers wrong and staged a scintillating, unique and unforgettable production. The colorful backdrop was a much-deserved world stage for several luminary African American athletes who defied stereotypes, and excelled in an array of what are considered non-traditional sports for them. Simone Biles became a household name from coast to coast, winning four gold medals in gymnastics; Simone Manuel won gold and silver medals in swimming; Michele Carter earned the gold medal for shot-put, Claressa Shields won gold in boxing and Daryl Homer was awarded a silver medal in fencing, all black American firsts. And the U.S. women’s track & field team, represented by Allyson Felix, Kristi Castlin, Nia Ali, Dalilah Muhammad and Brianna Rollins? Well, they just took everything…gold, silver and bronze. 6. OPENING THE DOOR TO CUBA. President Obama visited the island nation of Cuba in 2016, in a long-awaited move to shore up relations that have been strained for more than 50 years. While there, Obama announced a coming end to America’s decades-old economic sanctions, opening the door to trade, travel and tourism with the U.S. and signaling a dramatic shift in foreign policy toward the nation. Hopefully, with leaders from both countries expressing a commitment to the future, the move also foreshadows a reversal of Cuba’s human rights policies and ultimately improves the day-to-day lives of Cubans. | 74