Things That Happened The Year I Was Born.
Politics and Activism

30 Of The Biggest Events And Scandals To Happen In Black Pop-Culture In The Past 20 Years

I forgot some of these even happened!

Michelle Obama Instagram

This is going to make all of us feel old.

1. 1980, B.E.T (Black Entertainment Television) was launched.

Black Entertainment Television

Black Entertainment Television is an American cable television network and multimedia group that provides entertainment, news and other programming developed specifically for Black and African American viewers. BET was launched in January of 1980 by Robert L. Johnson as a two-hour time block on the USA Network. In 1983, it became a 24-hr channel consisting of news programs, music videos, and black sitcoms.

The channel reaches audiences in North America, as well as parts of Europe, the Caribbean and Africa.

2. 1981, Muhammad Ali retired from boxing.

Muhammad Ali retired with a career record of 55 wins and 5 defeats.

3. 1982, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album was released.

Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video.

In November of 1982, the King of Pop released his sixth studio album, Thriller. The album went 29x platinum and is still the worlds best selling album, having sold 66 million copies as of 2017.

Additionally, Michael Jackson won eight Grammy's at the 1984 awards, the highest number of Grammy's won by a single artist in one night, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for "Beat It."

4. 1983, Vanessa Williams was the first African American to win Miss America.

In 1983, Vanessa Williams made history when she was crowned the first African-American Miss America. She would later have her crown taken away after nude pictures of her were published.

And, "The Color Purple" (novel) by Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize.

In 1982, Alice Walker published "The Color Purple," a feminist novel about an abused and uneducated black woman's struggle for empowerment. In 1983, the novel won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The novel was praised for the depth of its female characters and was later turned into a film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey.

5. 1984, The "Cosby Show" debuted on NBC.

"The Cosby Show" cast.

"The Cosby Show" was a situation comedy that debuted on the NBC network in September of 1984. The show was based on the standup routine of is star, comedian, Bill Cosby. The show is still the most successful black sitcom to date, and was praised for not relying on black stereotypes, but instead an affluent, middle-class African American family.

Aside from reviving the sitcom genre and inspiring later sitcoms based on comedians, such as "Seinfeld," and "Roseanne," the show spawned its own very successful spin-off and cult classic, "A Different World," starring Lisa Bonet.

And, Marvin Gaye was murdered by his father.

After attempting to break up a fight between his parents, Marvin Gaye's father shot him twice. The first shot, to the heart, was fatal.

6. 1985, "The Color Purple" (film) was released.

"The Color Purple" is a coming of age period drama based on the novel of the same name by Alice Walker. It starred Whoopi Goldberg in her film-debut as Celie Johnson-Harris. Though nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the film took home no awards. However, Whoopi Goldberg did win the Golden Globe for Best Actress, and the Steven Spielberg directed drama has become a classic.

And, & "We Are The World" by USA For Africa topped the music charts.

A widespread famine hit Ethiopia between 1983 and 1985. In 1985 various artists came together to form the charity supergroup "United Artists of America." They recorded the single "We Are The World," to aid in the famine crisis. The single generated more than $60M and received multiple Grammys.

7. 1986, The first episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show aired.

"The Oprah Winfrey Show."

On September 8th 1986 "The Oprah Winfrey Show" was broadcast nationally. It aired for 25 seasons and remains the highest rated television talk show in history. The highly influential show covered a wide range of topics and guests, many of whom were "everyday people," and launched Oprah Winfrey into the media powerhouse she is today.

8.1987, Rock icon, Chuck Berry, installed "toilet tapes."

The rock and roller had multiple run-ins with the police over his career, as did many in his genre. He had been caught with under-aged girls, child pornography, and drugs. But in 1987, the legend was caught with cameras installed in the ladies restroom of his restaurant. The "toilet tapes" showed aerial views of women undressing.

And, James Baldwin died.

Later that year, playwright, essayist, and novelist, James Baldwin passed away from stomach cancer. A teacher, in his own right, Baldwin gain acclaim for his insights on black culture, spirituality and humanity.

9. 1989, Milli Vanilli was caught lip-syncing during a live performance. 

Milli Vanilli at the Grammy Awards.

While on the Club MTV Tour in Connecticut, the German R&B duo of Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan were singing their mega-hit, "Girl You Know It's True," when their track began to skip. It was relieved that aside from lip-syncing, the duo, who honed very strong German accents, were not the voices on their own songs. They were later stripped of their Grammys and their careers in music ended.

And, Todd Bridges was tried for attempted murder.

Todd Bridges, who was fighting a drug addiction, was arrested and indicted for the attempted murder of his drug dealer. He was eventually found "not guilty" after a witness testified that Bridges was not present at the time of the shooting.

10. 1990, The Central Park 5 were wrongly convicted of rape.

The Central Park jogger case was a major news story that involved the assault and rape of Trisha Meili, a white woman who was jogging through Manhattan's Central Park on the night of April 19th, 1989.

Five juvenile boys were arrested for the rape of Meili, as well as the attacks of others that went on that same night. After hours of interrogation, the boys "confessed" to the attacks. Their lawyers would later argue that the confessions were coerced and that the teens were intimidated as well as denied food, water, and sleep over the 24 hours they were interrogated. Though their "confessions" were inconsistent, and the DNA evidence from the rape kit was not a match to any of the boys, they were found guilty and sentenced to between 5 and 15 years.

Later in 2002, the real rapist, Matias Reyes, who was already serving a life sentence for rape admitted to the crime. Due to the statute of limitations on rape, he was never tried. The convictions of the "Central Park 5," as they were become to known, were overturned, however, they had all already completed their sentences.

11. 1991, Rodney King was beaten by police & Anita Hill testified in front of The Supreme Court.

Anita Hill in front of The Supreme Court.

An intoxicated Rodney King was caught by the Los Angeles police after a high-speed chase on March 3, 1991. After officers removed him from his car, they began to beat him mercilessly. Cameraman, George Holliday, caught it all on tape. The footage shocked the nation and the officers were arrested and charged with assault.

Later that year Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Though her initial accusation was done in a private interview, the FBI report was leaked and Hill was called to publicly testify at the re-opened confirmation hearings. She testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her while he was her boss at the Department of Education and EEOC. Though Thomas' confirmation was to be based more-or-less on his "good character," as he had only been a judge for about a year, he was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite Hill's testimony.

12. 1992, L.A Riots took over Los Angeles after Rodney King's trial.

Four L.A.P.D offers were indited in the brutal assault of Rodney King. After a three month trial, the predominantly white jury acquitted the officers of all charges. The riots led to days of widespread violence and arson. After the police began to retreat, Governor Pete Wilson declared a State of Emergency and the National Guard was called in. The riots, one of the worst in American history, left about 60 people dead and caused over $1B in damages.

13. 1993, Michael Jackson was accused of sexual assault. 

Latoya Jackson (left), Michael Jackson (center) and Janet Jackson (right).

In 1993, Evan Chandler accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing his 13 year-old son Jordan. Chandler claimed to have evidence and that he would go public with the allegations unless they could resolved the matter with a financial settlement. Though they settled for $23M, news broke anyway and the allegations were made public. This would not be the first time the King of Pop would face sexual abuse allegations, though he would never be found guilty.

14. 1994, O.J Simpson was arrested for the murder of his ex-wife.

On the morning of June 13, 1994, O.J's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her Los Angeles condo. Initially, Simpson was a person-of-interest in the murders and before he was scheduled to turn himself in, he led authorities the on an infamous low-speed chase down the Santa Ana Freeway. He would later be found "not guilty" of the crime.

And, The Rwandan genocide.

In April of 1993, President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and the neighboring Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira were assassinated in an attack on their plane. The next day presidential guards killed moderate Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana who had tried to calm tensions. The next 100 days were violent. The Hutu army was on a mission to slaughter as many Tutsi's and moderate Hutus as they could. Although many Rwandans fled into neighboring countries, an estimated 800,000 were still murdered. The story of a Hutu survivor, Paul Rusesabagina, is told in the Acadamy Award nominated film, "Hotel Rwanda," starring Don Cheadle.

15. 1995, O.J Simpson is acquitted of his ex-wife's murder.

At 10:07 a.m. on October 3, 1995, Simpson was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. The verdict sparked relief in the black community and rage in the white. Check out this clip from "The Oprah Winfrey Show," as her audience reacted to the live verdict.

16. 1996, "Independence Day," starring Will Smith was the highest grossing film.

"Independence Day" was a 1996 American sifi-action film starring Will Smith. It was the highest grossing film of 1996, and at the time was the second highest grossing film in history, following Jurassic Park.

17. 1997, Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield's ear.

Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson match.

"The Sound And The Fury" was the second professional boxing match between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson for the World Boxing Association heavyweight championship. It would later be known as the "Bite Fight," after Tyson bit off part of Holyfield's ear. Tyson was later disqualified from the match and temporarily lost his boxing license.

18. 1998, Lauryn Hill released her solo album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."

Lauryn Hill's, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" was her debut solo album. The album debuted at #1, and produced three hits, "Doo Wop (That Thing)," "Everything Is Everything," and "Ex-Factor." It also earned 10 Grammy nominations, winning five, and is still considered one of the greatest rap and R&B albums in history.

19. 1999. TLC released their last album as a trio.

TLC's, "No Scrubs" music video.

"Fanmail" was released in 1999 and ended the groups music hiatus. The album produced the mega-hit single, "No Scrubs," as well as "Unpretty," and "Dear Lie." It received eight Grammy nominations and won three. This would be the last album to be released before the death of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who would tragically pass away in 2002.

20. 2000, Venus Williams won the women's singles at Wimbledon. 

After defeating Martina Hingis, her sister, Serena Williams, and defending champion Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams won her first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon.

21. 2001, Colin Powell became the first Black secretary of state.

Colin Powell.

A Jamaican-American statesman, Colin Powell is a retired 4-star general in the United States Army and the first black person to serve as Secretary of State. He served under President George W. Bush.

22. 2002, R. Kelly was arrested for child pornography.

Singer R.Kelly was arrested and charged with 21 counts of making child pornography, involving intercourse, oral sex, urination, and other sexual acts. The case took 6 years to go to trial, and the singer was eventually found not guilty as it could not be proved that the tape was made before the girls 18th birthday. This was not the first, and would not be the last time the singer faced similar charges. He had also married underage songstress, Aaliyah in 1994 when she was only 15. It was annulled the next year.

And, Michael Jackson held his baby over a balcony.

While in Berlin to accept an award for his charitability in regards to children, Michael Jackson got slightly carried away whilst having a moment with his fans. The King of Pop held, then six-month-old, Blanket, over the hotel balcony railing. Though his attempt to just show off his son to his fan was clear, he was rightfully condemned for endangering the life of his son.

23. 2003, Beyonce released her first solo album, "Dangerously In Love."

Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" music video.

Beyoncé's reign as "Beyoncé" officially begun in 2003 when she released her first solo album, "Dangerously In Love." Beyoncé has since admitted that her record label at the time didn't think that the album would be a hit, but it debuted at #1, and produced the mega-hit single and cult classic, "Hive-Hit," "Crazy In Love."

24. 2004, Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson's nipple at Superbowl XXXVIII.

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Halftime Show

Superbowl XXXVIII was definitely one for the history books. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake took the field in their highly anticipated Halftime Show performance, however, it didn't go the way anyone planned. During the final seconds of the show, Timberlake snatched off part of Jackson's outfit, accidentally revealing her breast. It was later explained that Timberlake was just supposed to rip off the black part of her corset, but instead the piece underneath came off too.

The fallout was horrible for Jackson as she was uninvited to that years' Grammy Awards (Timberlake was not, and actually took home awards) as well as had her music temporarily blacklisted. The incident also prompted changes in FCC regulations and fines. The moment temporary halted Jackson's career and later started conversations about sexism and racism in Hollywood as Timberlake left the incident unscathed.

25. 2005, Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2000.

Hurricane Katrina was a massive category 5 storm that struck the Golf Coast in August of 2005. It caused catastrophic damage to parts of Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.

Arguably, New Orleans was hit the worst. 53 levees along the coast of the city broke and ocean water flooded the city. An estimated 2,000 people died during this storm, making it the deadliest in American history since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. Infamously, rapper Kanye West stated on live-tv that then-president, George W. Bush, didn't care about black people," as Bush's initial response to the disaster was less than snappy. Many were homeless or living in FEMA trailers for months and years to come.

26. 2006, Actor Wesley Snipes was hit with a $12M dollar tax fraud suit.

After not filing tax returns from 1999-2001, Snipes was convicted to a maximum of three years in prison for tax evasion.

27. 2007, Michael Vick was indefinitely suspended from the NFL after dog fighting ring discovered.

Michael Vick

In 2007, Michael Vick pleaded guilty to involvement in a dog fighting ring. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison.

28. 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American President-Elect of the United States

Barack Obama and family on election night 2008.

In July of 2008, Senator Barack Obama earned enough delegates to become the first African American Democratic nominee for President of The United States.

In November of 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American President-Elect of the United States, after defeating Senator John McCain.

29. 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as first African American President.

(From left to right) Janet Jackson, Paris Jackson, Latoya Jackson, Jackie Jackson and Michael Joseph Jackson Jr.

On January 20th, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of The United States. As the first African American President, he would later serve a second term.

And, Michael Jackson was killed.

Later that year The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, was found unresponsive in his home. After being pronounced dead at Ceder Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, it was revealed that Jackson died from cardiac arrest due to the improper use of Propofol, a powerful sleep aid normally used before surgery. His personal doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray, would later be charged and convicted of manslaughter.

30. 2010, It was revealed that Tiger Woods was cheating on his wife.

After being involved in a minor car accident with a woman that was not his wife, Elin, it was finally revealed that Tiger Woods was a cheater. However, what made this story infamous was the number of women who came forward claiming to have had an affair with the golfing champion. Tiger Woods eventually admitted to cheating with 120 women.

And, A massive earthquake destroyed Haiti.

In January of 2010 a massive earthquake rocked the island of Hispaniola, devastating Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Haiti, however, was stuck worse and approximately 300,000 were killed. The initial shock registered a magnitude of 7.0 with two aftershocks registering at 5.9 and 5.5. The island had not been hit with such a powerful earthquake in nearly three centuries.

Needless to say, the country was in ruins. Almost no buildings survived and hundreds of thousands were displaced.

The event prompted the revival of "United States Artists," and the re-recording of "We Are The World," re-named, "We Are The World 25 For Haiti," to raise funds for the rebuilding of the countries.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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