Black History Month

Black History Month

We're celebrating Black History Month by shouting out some of our favorite sons and daughters throughout the month of February.


Some Of The Most Memorable 'OMG' Moments In Black History

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Black history has been marked by cultural milestones, political victories, and trailblazing figures opening doors for Black Americans. It has also included scandals and high-profile events that left a huge mark on American history. Public discourse surrounding certain Black celebrities, leaders, and private individuals over the last 40 years shaped serious conversations about Black Americans and how society treats them.

Keep scrolling to take a look back at several controversies that not only gripped the nation but even led to major political and social changes at home and abroad.

OJ Simpson's Murder Trial Captured The Country's Attention

O.J. Simpson shows the jury a new pair of Aris ext

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Orenthal James "OJ" Simpson's murder trial left a long-lasting impression on American society, the legal system, and media history. The former NFL player and actor was accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman in June 1994. Simpson pleaded not guilty to two murder charges, setting the stage for what was dubbed the "Trial of the Century." Los Angeles prosecutors relied on compelling DNA evidence, including Simpson's blood at the crime scene, while the celebrity's attorneys targeted the police department's mismanagement of the case.

One of the most shocking moments of the trial was when Simpson put on a glove authorities believed he wore during the murders. The glove didn't fit, leading to a famous quote from Johnnie Cochran, one of Simpson's lawyers: "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit." That was the result of the trial, as well: the 12-person jury found Simpson not guilty of the horrific murders, shocking Americans across the country and making the entire event one of the most publicized criminal cases in U.S. history.

The Michael Jackson Child Sexual Abuse Allegations

Michael Jackson Trial Continues

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Michael Jackson was on top of the world thanks to his iconic pop songs and stylish dances. But in 1993, serious allegations plunged the star-studded singer's legacy into turmoil. Dentist and screenwriter Evan Chandler accused Jackson of sexually abusing his 13-year-old son at the celebrity's Neverland Ranch in California, leading to a civil lawsuit. Accusations from another 13-year-old boy named Gavin Arvizo and a 2003 documentary sparked a criminal investigation against the superstar. State prosecutors took Jackson to trial in 2005, where the "Thriller" singer pleaded not guilty to 14 charges, including child molestation, conspiracy, and intoxicating a minor in the commission of a felony. He was acquitted of all charges after prosecutors failed to provide convincing evidence.

Throughout the media storm, police conducted a controversial strip search, and several children were alleged to have shared a bed with the musical sensation. The civil lawsuit with Chandler happened at the same time as the trial, dismantling Jackson's fame until his death in June 2009. The controversial topic resurfaced again in 2020 with the release of HBO's documentary short Leaving Neverland, which detailed the experiences of two men who claimed they had a relationship with Jackson when they were young boys.

Janet Jackson And Justin Timberlake's Super Bowl Performance Changed TV Forever

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Halftime Show

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On February 1, 2004, during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, Justin Timberlake ripped off part of Janet Jackson's outfit, exposing her right breast on national television. What was largely described as a "wardrobe malfunction" enraged American viewers and regulators. The fallout saw sharp backlash and criticism against Jackson despite Timberlake being the one to tear off her clothes. Her music was blacklisted from major TV networks and radio stations, and she was suddenly dropped from numerous projects and award show appearances. Lawsuits, sanctions, and fines against CBS, and sweeping change to television censorship laws by the Federal Communications Commission followed in the scandal's wake. A 2021 documentary put the spotlight on one of the most talked-about topics of the 2000s and how Jackson suffered the brunt of society's wrath.

Tiger Woods' Infidelity Whipped Up A Media Whirlwind

PNC Championship - Final Round

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Tiger Woods' stellar golf skills made him one of the most esteemed American athletes, but his famous cheating scandal snarled his legacy. In November 2009, the National Enquirer published a story claiming the golf legend cheated on his wife, Elin Nordegren, with New York City nightclub manager Rachel Uchitel. Days after the story went live, Woods was involved in a car crash outside his home, leaving him with minor injuries and a charge of careless driving.

At least ten women claimed they slept with the five-time Masters champion, and Woods apologized numerous times for his unfaithfulness. Media reports kept coming out about alleged hookups, including another National Enquirer story alleging Woods had sex with 120 women behind his wife's back. Many sponsors pulled the plug on collaborations with the popular golfer, and he checked himself into rehab for sex addiction. Woods and Nordegren finalized their divorce in August 2010 after six years of marriage.

Over a decade after the sex scandal, several reports state Woods and Nordegren are happily co-parenting and even consider themselves friends again.

Trayvon Martin's Death Gave Rise To Black Lives Matter Movement

New York City Council Dons Hoodies In Honor Of Trayvon Martin

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The fatal shooting of a Black teenager spurred the creation of the modern-day civil rights movement. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old boy walking out of a convenience store in Sanford, Florida, when he was confronted by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. The two got into a physical dispute, and Zimmerman opened fire at close range, killing the Black teen. Police didn't arrest or charge Zimmerman at the time due to self-defense laws in the state, but this sparked anger among Black Americans.

Three Black women created the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in response to Martin's death, demanding Zimmerman be prosecuted for the shooting. The movement also shined a light on racial profiling and the treatment of Black Americans in the country. Then-Governor Rick Scott assigned a special prosecutor to the case, and Zimmerman went to trial for second-degree murder in June 2013.

Prosecutors claim the shooter racially profiled Martin and acted as a vigilante. Zimmerman's lawyers argued their client felt threatened after Martin allegedly attacked him. The defense opted not to pursue a claim under Florida's "stand your ground" laws, which permitted using deadly force in self-defense. Jurors found Zimmerman not guilty of killing the 17-year-old in July 2013. Despite people's discontent with the trial's outcome, the incident birthed the Black Lives Matter movement, which continues today and is echoed in other activist circles.

Colin Kaepernick Kneeled In Protest And Uprooted The World Of U.S. Sports

Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers

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As America reached a tipping point with race relations and police brutality, Colin Kaepernick decided to take a stance. In August 2016, during the San Francisco 49ers final preseason game, the then-NFL quarterback kneeled during the national anthem, sparking outrage from American viewers, politicians, and even NFL team owners. Kaepernick had a history of speaking out against police brutality and even sitting during the anthem, but the world paid attention when he bent the knee.

Kaepernick eventually left his team and hasn't been offered an NFL contract since. His actions, however, highlighted racial injustice in the sports world and put a bigger lens on disparities against Black people in America. Some prominent activists and even athletes mimicked his monumental kneeling as an act of protest.

Today, Kaepernick continues to spread the word about racial discrimination in the country. He's since published books, gotten involved in multiple media projects, and even leads The Colin Kaepernick Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting "oppression through education and social activism." Even with all these moves, he still anticipates playing football again.

The Academy Awards Broadcasted One Of Its Biggest Gaffes With 'Moonlight'


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The Oscars are no strangers to controversy, and one of their most infamous moments almost snubbed an acclaimed Black film. Moonlight, a 2016 film written and directed by Berry Jenkins, chronicled the life of a Black man struggling with his sexual identity and the abuse he experiences. The movie received eight nominations at the 2017 Academy Awards, including the coveted "Best Picture" category.

Presenter Faye Dunaway mistakenly announced La La Land as the winner of the prestigious award. Several minutes later, the film's producer, Jordan Horowitz, came back onstage to correctly state Moonlight won the biggest award of the night. The high-profile blunder invited mass ridicule from viewers, social media users, and international onlookers. Moonlight also won the awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay. Jenkins never got to deliver his acceptance speech due to the "Best Picture" mix-up.

The Academy later said the historic mistake happened because the presenters were given the wrong envelope to read.

Jussie Smollett Staged A Hate Crime Amid Racial Tensions In America

Jury Reaches A Verdict In Jussie Smollett Trial

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Jussie Smollett had the entire country up in arms when it was found that he orchestrated a hate crime hoax in Chicago. Two men attacked the Empire star outside his apartment on January 29, 2019. The mysterious assailants hurled racial and homophobic slurs at Smollett while pouring bleach on him and putting a noose around his neck. When police raided the suspects' home, they found records showing they received payments from Smollett.

The disguised men were identified as Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, Nigerian brothers who both worked as extras on the set of Empire. As the investigation continued, authorities began to unravel Smollett's scheme, and a grand jury charged him with filing a false police report, a class four felony. Prosecutors allege the actor tried to catapult his career to new heights with the fake crime. The actor maintained his innocence throughout the entire ordeal and even had outbursts in court. Ultimately, he was found guilty in December 2021 and sentenced in March 2022. Since then, he's been in and out of jail and is appealing his sentence.

The Controversial Press Surrounding Kobe Bryant's Death

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns

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NBA superstar Kobe Bryant died in a horrific helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on January 26, 2020. The crash also claimed the lives of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, the pilot, and six more people onboard. While Bryant's death triggered heartbreak in both the general public and the sports world, no one was prepared for the fallout stemming from the media coverage.

TMZ was the first news source to break the news about Bryant's death and the crash, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva blasted the website for reporting on the case before officials could inform the victims' families. Various outlets, from the BBC to ESPN, also scrambled to report on the helicopter crash as well as prepare tributes for the young, retired basketball legend. Some reporters struggled to reflect on Bryant's decorated legacy due to the 2003 allegations of rape, and a Washington Post reporter was suspended for tweeting about the case hours after his death.

It was later revealed that several Los Angeles County firefighters and sheriff's deputies took graphic photos of the crime scene, including Kobe and Gianna's dead bodies, and shared them without authorization. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's widow, ended up filing three lawsuits over the leaked images.

George Floyd's Murder Put The Searing Spotlight Back On Police Brutality

Memorial At San Diego Museum Honors Black People Killed Due To Racial Injustice

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The death of George Floyd became a catalyst for demanding reform and accountability from law enforcement agencies. On May 25, 2020, four Minneapolis police officers responded to a grocery store after an employee suspected Floyd of using a counterfeit bill. Three of the officers detained Floyd as Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, the Black man uttering "I can't breathe" before he died. This phrase became the rallying cry for millions of Americans flooding the streets to protest police brutality.

These demonstrations happened in all 50 of America's major cities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people even supported the idea of abolishing law enforcement altogether. Major police departments across the nation started changing their policies or suddenly had investigations opened up in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. It also highlighted racial disparities and discrimination in all sectors of life, including education, health care, and the workplace.

Chauvin was sentenced for murdering Floyd in May 2021 and received federal prison time for depriving him of his rights in July 2022. The other three officers involved in George's death, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane, were also convicted in both state and federal court for their roles in Floyd's death.

"The Slap Heard Around The World"


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Will Smith shocked the world when he famously slapped host Chris Rock in the face during the 2022 Academy Awards. Rock was presenting the award for "Best Documentary Feature" when he cracked a joke about Will's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The I Am Legend actor then walked onstage and assaulted the comedian before returning to his seat to yell, "Keep my wife's name out your f**king mouth!"

Social media erupted as soon as the live moment happened, and what was especially jarring was Smith accepted his Oscar for "Best Actor" that same night. The Hollywood icon apologized to the Academy and other nominees for his actions during his acceptance speech.

The backlash was swift on both sides. Many condemned Smith for getting violent over a joke, but others criticized Rock for commenting on Jada's shaved head, which was the result of her alopecia condition. AMPAS ended up banning Smith from attending their events for ten years, and the event also put much more scrutiny on Will and Jada's marriage in the following months.

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