Bill de Blasio is inaugurated as the 109th mayor of New York City. Scott Stringer becomes city comptroller, and Letitia James is sworn in as the first African-American public advocate. Several new City Council members are also inaugurated, including Inez Barron, who takes the seat of her husband, Charles Barron. Melissa Mark-Viverito is elected as City Council speaker. She is the first Puerto Rican and Latina citywide-elected official in New York. Eric Adams is inaugurated as Brooklyn borough president. In his fourth State of the State Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlines his desire to expand opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses.
A federal civil lawsuit against the city and the NYPD is opened in the 2013 fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham. The unarmed Graham into the bathroom of his home to flush marijuana down the toilet before he was shot by police officer Richard Haste. Educator and church elder Yolanda Gross passes. The Affordable Care Act goes into effect, giving millions access to health care.
De Blasio begins his push for universal pre-K. Unemployment numbers reveal that 24.2 Black men between the ages of 18 and 29 are out of work. The minimum wage in New York is increased to $8 an hour. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated with a “Day of Service.” Famed writer and poet Amiri Baraka dies at age 79. A judge rules that NYPD officers must submit to sobriety tests after police shootings. Haiti marks four years since 2010’s massive earthquake, which killed 200,000 people on the island.
The search continues for autistic, nonverbal 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo, who went missing in October 2013. Black-owned talk radio station WWRL switches to an all-Spanish format. To much opposition, de Blasio appoints Bill Bratton as his NYPD commissioner. The search for Oquendo ends tragically when his remains are found near the East River. Oquendo ran out of his school in Long Island City, Queens, leading to a massive four-month search.
The city is in shock after the killing of 4-year-old Myls Dobson, who died at the hands of his caretaker, Kryzie King. Dobson was beaten, burned and starved to death. Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson is found guilty on charges that include bribery and conspiracy. Former aid to the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rachel Noredlinger, is named chief of staff to the first lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray. Black fraternity Phi Beta Sigma celebrates 100 years. Author, scholar and Amsterdam News journalist Herb Boyd is inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.
Jazz trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr. dies at age 61. De Blasio and Bratton announce the end of the city’s fight against the Floyd v. City of New York ruling, which declared the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactic unconstitutional. Previous Mayor Michael Bloomberg had appealed the ruling. A U.S. postage stamp featuring political pioneer Shirley Chisholm is unveiled. Rama Betty Lomax passes. Former Savannah, Ga., Mayor and newspaper publisher Floyd Adams Jr. dies. During his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama focuses on environmental policies, creating jobs and immigration reform, saying he wants 2014 to be a “year of action.”
Black History Month begins with the national theme “Civil Rights in America.” Ken Thompson is sworn in as Brooklyn district attorney, promising equal justice for all. Football fever is felt across the city as Super Bowl XLVIII is played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Seattle Seahawks defeat the Denver Broncos 43 to 8.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson hosts his 17th annual Wall Street Economic Summit in the city with the theme “50 Years After the Civil Rights Act: The Unfinished Agenda for Economic Justice.” The XXII Winter Olympic Games are held in Sochi, Russia. Black athletes competing include American speed skater Shani Davis and bobsledders Lolo Jones and Aja Evans. Emmis Communications takes ownership of Black radio stations WBLS and WLIB.
De Blasio gives his first State of the City Address, vowing to end New York City’s “tale of two cities” and improve conditions for those struggling financially. Harlem Children’s Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada steps down. Anne Williams- Isom is named his successor. A Queens teacher makes headlines after students at P.S. 201 are not permitted to write about Malcolm X for a Black history assignment. Ras Baraka, son of the late Amiri Baraka, announces he will run for mayor of Newark, N.J. A jury finds Michael Dunn, who is accused of killing 17-year-old Black male Jordan Davis, guilty of attempted murder.
Black 8-year-old Donald “D.J.” Maiden is shot by his white neighbor, 46-year-old Brian Cloninger, while playing tag. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus comes to town at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with Harlem-raised Black ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson. Celebrity mixologist Darryl Robinson dies. Cuomo announces a state initiative that offers college classes and degrees to inmates. New Afrika politician, human rights lawyer and Mayor of Jackson, Miss., Chokwe Lumumba passes at age 66.
Continuing his push for universal pre-K, de Blasio and his supporters head to Albany to advocate for taxing New York City citizens who make $500,000 or more to fund the program. Instead, Cuomo and state legislators agree to allot $300 million for the pre-K program. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 airliner en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, disappears over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board. Obama announces his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, aimed at improving the lives of young men of color in the country through mentorship. The 86th Academy Awards are held. Big winners include “12 Years a Slave,” taking three Oscars, including Best Picture, while Black actress Lupita Nyong’o wins Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film. Dr. Ophelia DeVore Mitchell passes at 63.
Filmmaker Spike Lee makes controversial comments about white gentrification of his Brooklyn neighborhood. As a result, his childhood home is spraypainted by vandals. An East Harlem explosion levels two buildings, leaving two dead and more than 70 injured. A gas leak is blamed for the explosion. De Blasio moves forward with the approval of 45 charter school colocations. Harlem’s Atlah World Missionary Church, led by James David Manning, receives criticism after posting homophobic messages on its marquee.
Charles and Inez Barron send an open letter to Cuomo and state Senate Speaker Sheldon Silver calling for special elections to fill 10 vacant Assembly seats across the state. The city settles the second part of an FDNY discrimination case resulting in the city paying $98 million to 1,500 Black and Hispanic former FDNY applicants. Fourteen-year-old Kahton Anderson shoots at a rival gang member on a B15 MTA bus in Brooklyn and fatally hits an innocent bystander. Activists raise concerns over how guns are getting into the hands of kids.
The state Senate rejects the Dream Act, a bill that would provide tuition assistance to undocumented college students. An investigation begins after mentally ill 56-year-old Jerome Murdough dies in a Rikers Island jail cell. Murdough was left unattended in the cell for four hours, which reached 100 degrees, resulting in his death. A report released by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project reveals that New York schools are the most segregated in the country. Dance icon Joan Miller dies at 78.
Open enrollment for the first year of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace ends, with the number of enrollees exceeding the Obama administration’s goal of 7 million. Bronx-born famed DJ and record producer Frankie Knuckles, who popularized house music, dies at age 59.
Sharpton hosts the 16th annual National Action Network convention. Attendees and speakers include Obama, de Blasio and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Brooklyn native Jonathan Fleming is exonerated after being falsely convicted of a 1989 murder and spending 24 years in prison. Sports writer Marcus Henry dies. De Blasio pledges to allocate $100 million in federal funding for ongoing Hurricane Sandy recovery. The city welcomes its long-awaited first inspector general, Philip Eure, to oversee the Police Department. The position is created as a result of a case that found stop-and-frisk unconstitutional.
“A Raisin in the Sun” returns to Broadway for a run starring Denzel Washington. Broadway actor Lawrence Hamilton dies at age 59. Thousands of students opt out of the statewide Common Core testing. Parents and educators feel the test does not accurately evaluate students’ skills. The NYPD disbands its Muslim surveillance operations known as the “Demographics Unit.”
Educator Dr. Luberta Fields Mays dies at age 84. In a 6-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court allows a majority of voters in Michigan to end affirmative action in the state. An estimated 276 girls and women are abducted from a school in Nigeria and held hostage. Boko Haram is believed to have taken the girls. Longtime political leader, “Gang of Four” member and father to former Gov. David Paterson Basil Paterson dies at age 87. “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” starring Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, opens on Broadway to rave reviews. First Corinthian Baptist Church Senior Pastor Michael Walrond announces plans to run against Rep. Charlie Rangel in the primaries for the 13th Congressional District seat in Harlem. The Rev. Dino Woodard dies at age 79.
Donald Sterling, the owner of the L.A. Clippers, is caught on an audio recording making racist comments about Black people. He is banned for life from the league and forced to pay $2.5 million. Brave 13-year-old Gama Droiville becomes a symbol of survival after he is shot in the eye during a shootout in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Thompson says he will no longer prosecute people caught with 20 grams of marijuana or less. Leroy Comrie announces he will run for state Senate against Malcolm Smith. Five members of the Williamsburg Safety Patrol Unit are indicated for the 2013 beating of Black 23-year-old Taj Patterson. Paul Robeson Jr. dies at age 86.
The United Federation of Teachers and de Blasio agree on a nine-year contract for teachers, giving them their first contract in five years. Queens City Council Member Ruben Wills is arrested on corruption charges. AmNews entertainment columnist Charles Rogers dies at age 67.
Baraka is elected mayor of Newark, N.J. The corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and 126th Street is named after the “Queen of Soul Food,” the late Sylvia Woods. Freedom fighters Elombe Brath, Vincent Harding and Sam Greenlee all pass within weeks of each other. Celebrity chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, de Blasio and former President Bill Clinton announce the Harlem EatUp! food festival, set for 2015. Journalist William Worthy Jr. passes.
Attorney Cornell William Brooks is selected as president and CEO of the NAACP, succeeding Benjamin Todd Jealous. Fast-food workers across the country in 150 cities, including New York, protest for a wage increase. The world mourns the loss of author, poet, dancer, actress and singer Maya Angelou, who passes at age 86. Fourteen-year-old Javier Payne is shoved through a window by an NYPD officer in the Bronx. Payne undergoes emergency surgery to remove glass from his chest, lungs and heart and gets 50 stitches. Former New York Gov. David Paterson is named chair of the New York State Democratic Committee. Former state Sen. Catherine Abate dies.
Tragedy hits Brooklyn when 27-year-old Daniel St. Hubert allegedly stabs 6-year-old Prince “P.J.” Joshua Avitto to death and critically injures friend 7-year-old Mikayla Capers inside an elevator in an East New York housing project. The community and politicians push for security cameras in NYCHA elevators. The NYPD arrests 103 gang members during an early morning sweep at Grant Houses in Harlem. The gang members are allegedly connected to 19 non-fatal shootings and two homicides.
After serving 17 years in prison, Roger Logan is released after it is proved that he was wrongly accused of a 1997 murder. History happens in the FDNY when 41 women graduate from the Fire Academy, the most in more than 30 years. Queen Mother Dora Smith passes at age 83. At the 68th Tony Awards, big winners include “A Raisin in the Sun” for Best Revival of a Play, McDonald wins for Best Performance by a Leading Actress for her role in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” and James Monroe Iglehart wins for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as the Genie in “Aladdin.”
Subpoenas handed to two aides of former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes reveal that money from drug busts during his term could have been used to fund his campaign. Actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee passes away at age 91. After the tragic death of Avonte, community members plead with City Council members to pass “Avonte’s Law,” which would require alarms to be placed on school exits.
Sharpton’s National Action Network hosts the “Triumph Awards.” Honorees include ballerina Misty Copeland, Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks and music mogul Kevin Liles. Singer Bobby Womack passes at age 70. The Apollo Theater celebrates its 80th anniversary with a star-studded gala. A mistrial is declared in the case against the disgraced Malcolm Smith on federal corruption charges. His retrial is scheduled for January.
During the primary elections, Rangel wins re-election. Other winners include Comrie for state Senate and Charles Barron for state Assembly. After 25 years, the city announces that it is looking to settle with the “Central Park Five” for $40 million. Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kharey Wise and Kevin Richardson were all exonerated in the 1988 rape of a white woman in the “Central Park Jogger” case. The Community Safety Act is passed by the City Council, making it easier for civilians to sue the NYPD for racial profiling. The act was previously vetoed by Bloomberg. Jazz pianist Horace Silver dies at age 85.