Happy New Year! A Year In Review
by Elroy Reed
The year 2019 closed out a decade of the 21st Century with hopes for a new year of expectations as we as a society and as human-kind advances forward into the future. Many of us lost loved ones, friends and family members and we cherish our memories and the contributions that they made to our lives. Notably, we lost the following: Actress and Tony Award winner Diahann Carrol, 84, to breast cancer; Nobel Laurete Toni Morrison, died of pneumonia at 88; Filmmaker John Singleton (Boyz In the Hood) dies at 51 from a stroke; CEO of Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson, 60, dies in his sleep; Congressman John Conyers of Michigan dies at 90; Congressman Elijah Cummings dies at 68; Baseball player Frank Robinson dies at 83; and Author Ernest Gaines dies at 86 (The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman, A Lesson Before Dying).
Isabelle Buckner died at the age of 86. She was former Principal of the Carmen Buckner Elementary School in Waukegan. Civil Rights Activist, Singer and Pastor, Rev. Clay Evans died at 94.
There was tragedy that turned to triumphant in the miracle of Curtis Hannibal who received a double organ operation Mother’s Day weekend, Heart and Kidney transplant. George Moore, Sr was named Father of the Year, by the Chicago Peoples Voice. Chief George Bridges, Jr. received the Rising Star Award by the Illinois Association of Park Districts. Brandon Ewing was named President of the Waukegan Public School District Board, being the youngest African American board president at 26.
Mayor Leon Rockingham, Jr. was named President of the Illinois Municipal League. Chase Thomas, college student, ran and won a seat on the Board of Trustees for the Lake County Regional School Board. Judge George Bridges, Sr. was appointed to the Illinois Appellate Court. Rev. Anthony Conley received the CLC Harambee Award. John Idleburg won as the First African American Sheriff in the County’s history. He was also named the 2019 Most Influential African American of Lake County.
Julianna Stratton became the first African American Lieutenant Governor in the State of Illinois history.
Carolyn Jean Pope announced that she is retiring as the entrepreneur of Pope’s Florist and moving to Atlanta. Pope’s Florist is one of two African American owned floral shops in Lake County. Real Men Grill introduced a County Wide cook-off of African American Men. Renee Whitehead celebrated 30 years as one of Lake County’s few female barbers.
On a sad note for newspapers and the newspaper industry, more than 100 local and regional newspapers folded due to competition from the internet, fewer ad sales, and loss in readership. According to the Associated Press, more than 1,400 newspapers/ magazines / publications have gone out of business over the last 15 years. The most notable of these were Ebony and Jet magazines which have been a staple of the African American Community for about 70 years.
On the national level, President Donald Trump was impeached by the United States Congress and awaits a trial by the U.S. Senate to determine if he will be removed from office. On the initial survey, there were about 22 high profile individuals who were running for President on the Democratic ticket. Three, considered to be very long shots, filed petitions to run against Trump as republicans.
Finally, my favorite new song released in 2019 was a simple but passionate tune by H.E.R – H.E.R. on Austin City Limits “Make it Rain”. In that song, “make it rain” are the only lyrics leaving the passion and the music to drum up visions of what the hearers see and feel as she sings. To me, it is a song asking for God to refresh our land and our lives, through the simple and natural cleaning process of rain. Like a nice cleaning snow, it is sometimes nice to chill out, watch the beauty of God’s creations and start all over again.
My wish for each of our readers is that each of us will have a cleansing experience in 2020. That we release the bad, the sad, and the forgettable of the prior year, hold on to the good, learn from it, hit the reset button and start all over again. As the great Al Green once sang, I wish you Peace, Love and Happiness.