2017 Year in Review

Cyril Josh Barker | 12/28/2017, 10:16 a.m.
Highlights of 2017.
DACA Protest Bill Moore photo


Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes to make New York state’s public colleges tuition-free. Students whose families earn $125,000 or less would pay nothing for tuition at two- and four-year public colleges under the plan. Superstar Janet Jackson gives birth to her first child. The United States Intelligence Community releases a declassified version of its investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The NAACP stages a sit-in at the office of then-U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions to protest his selection as U.S. attorney general by President-elect Donald Trump. Congress of Racial Equality leader Roy Innis dies at 82. More than 100 people are injured when a Long Island Railroad train goes through a bumper block and ran off the track at Atlantic Terminal Station in Brooklyn. Omarosa Manigault joins President-elect Trump’s White House team in a role focusing on public engagement. She previously served as the coordinator for African-American outreach during his campaign. A strong snowstorm blows through New York City, leaving behind nearly a foot of snow. Ahead of President-elect Trump’s inauguration, the National Action Network, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, joins forces with national partners for a march in Washington, D.C. on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Five people are shot dead and eight are wounded in the baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Florida. Michelle Obama delivers her final speech as first lady at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year event in the East Room of the White House. At the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards, several Black entertainers and productions featuring Black entertainers are top winners, including Viola Davis in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role in the film “Fences,” FX comedy series “Atlanta,” for Best Musical or Comedy TV Series, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” for Best Miniseries or TV Film and “Moonlight” for Best Picture, Drama. Jurors give the death sentence to Dylann Roof, the man who killed nine people in a 2015 massacre at a historically Black Charleston, S.C. church. Barack Obama delivers his farewell address as U.S. president in Chicago. Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond is selected to lead the Congressional Black Caucus. Former Black Republican presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson, is confirmed to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Justice Department finds that the Chicago Police Department regularly violated citizens’ civil rights by using excessive force toward African-Americans and Latinos. Late rapper Tupac Shakur is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ilhan Omar makes history as the first Somali-American lawmaker in the United States when she’s sworn into the Minnesota House of Representatives. Sociologist, educator and civil rights activist Cyril DeGrasse Tyson dies at 89. In his final days in office, President Obama designates three civil rights sites as national monuments: A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, The Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Ala. and the Reconstruction Era National Monument in Beaufort County, S.C. Controversial Black pastor Bishop Eddie Long dies at age 63. He was head of the 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in DeKalb County, Ga. and was accused of sexually abusing young men he mentored. The disciplinary trial begins for NYPD officer who killed Ramarley Graham, Richard Haste. Former State Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson is sentenced to five years for corruption. Fans cry foul to entertainer Steve Harvey after he meets with President-elect Trump in New York. In one of his final acts as president, Obama reduces or eliminates the sentences for 330 non-violent drug offenders, the most by any U.S. president in a single day. Pioneering psychiatrist, Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross, passes at age 80. Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. His inauguration is marred by numerous protests, along with the refusal of several elected officials to attend the event. More than 100,000 attend the Women’s March on Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration to protest and to voice their concern about the new administration. Hundreds of similar protests take place around the country and the world, including in New York City, where more than 400,000 people take to the streets. Diversity comes to the Academy Awards as several Black actors are nominated, including Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Days after his inauguration, President Trump calls for an investigation into voter fraud because of his loss of the popular vote during the 2016 election. The Department of Justice orders a delay in the hearing of the case of the Texas voter ID law. The Schomburg Center is classified as a National Historic Landmark. Carolyn Bryant, the white woman who accused 14-year-old Black lynching victim Emmett Till of speaking to her in a suggestive manner in 1955 in Mississippi, confesses that she lied about the incident that led to his killing. The confession is released from a 2007 interview and she will not face prosecution. Jazz photographer Chuck Stewart dies at age 89. Trump signs an executive order banning the entry of people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen into the U.S. for 90 days. The ban is later lifted after a lawsuit is filed by the Civil Liberties Union. Trump nominates federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat on the Supreme Court left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016. Family and friends gather at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem to mark the anniversary of the passing of journalist Michael J. Feeney.