Bail reform laws take effect in New York State making changes to the cash bail system for criminal defendants. Judges must release anyone charged with a misdemeanor on their own recognizance and most non-violent offenders have to be released. Nick Gordon, the boyfriend of the late Bobbi Kristina Brown, who is the daughter of late singer Whitney Houston, dies from a heroin overdose at age 30. In the middle of winter, NYCHA reports that 5,000 residents in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens don’t have heat and hot water. White former NYPD officer Michael Reynolds resigns from the force after it’s reported that in 2018 he broke into the home of a Black woman and her two children in Tennessee and made racist threats. Reynolds was sentenced to 15 days in jail and three year probation. Lifetime airs the five-part miniseries Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning about the various women accusing the R&B singer of sexual assault. Kelly denies the accusations and is in jail in Chicago awaiting trial on sex crimes. A U.S. drone strike at Baghdad International Airport kills Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The Department of Housing and Urban Development rolls back several measures intended to prevent housing segregation. Yolanda Carr, the mother of 2019 Texas police shooting victim Atatiana Jefferson, dies. New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker announces he’s ending his 2020 presidential campaign. New York Attorney General Letitia James launches an investigation into whether the NYPD has been targeting communities of color through its enforcement of the MTA. Rysheim Smith is found guilty in the 2016 beating death of his girlfriend’s son, 6-year-old Zymere Perkins of Harlem. The House of Representatives sends articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate over allegations that Trump withheld U.S. funds from the Ukraine in exchange for an investigation on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Several events take place across the city to celebrate the 34th Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Several anti-violence organizations celebrated the 10th annual Peace Week. Neighborhood basketball coach John “Butch” Purcell dies of a heart attack at age 74. He’s known by his neighbors as the Mayor of Stuyvesant Town. The historically-Black Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. celebrates its centennial. The sorority was founded at Howard University by five women at Howard University in 1920. A 5.9 magnitude earthquake hits Puerto Rico leaving thousands without electricity. While serving a three to ten-year prison sentence for sexual assault, comedian Bill Cosby files a petition in Pennsylvania Supreme Court seeking a review of his 2018 conviction. Dr. James Holloway is named the first African American president of Rutgers University in New Jersey and assumes the position in July. Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Julie Menin and other elected officials launch a citywide campaign to get people to participate in the 2020 Census. The first case of the COVID-19 in the U.S. is confirmed by the CDC. The World Health Organization declares the outbreak of the disease as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath dies at age 93. The world mourns the death of professional basketball legend Kobe Bryant after he is killed in a helicopter crash Calabasas, Calif. at the age of 41. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also on board and killed in the crash along with seven others. A public memorial is held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the two in February. At the Grammy Awards, Lizzo receives eight nominations winning for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best Urban Contemporary Album. Rapper Lil Nas X wins for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. A report reveals that about 90% of all jaywalking tickets in the city are issued to Black and Latino pedestrians. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announces he’s ending his run for mayor and leaving politics after 22 years when his term ends in 2021. Diaz previously served in the New York State Assembly. The 86th season of Amateur Night kicks off at the Apollo Theater. Beloved Brooklyn resident great great great-grandmother Hyacinth Bourne dies at the age of 103. Andy Byford resigns as MTA Chief after two years on the job. The CDC confirms the first case of human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States. President Trump imposes travel restrictions preventing foreign nationals from entering the U.S. if they visited China, where the virus originated.
Black History Month begins with the theme “African Americans and the Vote.” The 60th anniversary of the Sit-In Movement is commemorated honoring the four African American freshmen from North Carolina A&T State College (now University) in Greensboro, NC who sparked the non-violent and student-led wave of protests resulting in desegregation. At Super Bowl LIV the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers, 31–20. At the 51st NAACP Image Awards singer Rihanna receives the President’s Award for her charity work. President Trump delivers his third State of the Union address. The City Planning Commission approves a massive expansion to Harlem’s Lenox Terrace apartment complex. Former Congressman J. C. Watts launches the Black News Channel. The U.S. Senate votes 52-48 to acquit President Trump on impeachment charges. Organizers announce the launch of the Harlem Renaissance 100, a multi-year celebration and tourism initiative commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. At the 92nd Academy Awards, Hair Love wins Best Animated Short Film. The film tells the story of a young Black girl’s pride in her natural hair. Over 15,000 people attend Oprah Winfrey’s 20/20 Vision Tour at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Political consultant Roger Stone is sentenced to 40 months in prison after being found guilty of witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding and making false statements. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office looks into reopening the 1965 murder case of Malcolm X after Netflix releases the docuseries “Who Killed Malcolm X?” The founder of South African music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala, dies at age 78. Organizers mark 55 years since the signing of Voting Rights Act of 1965. Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologizes after an audio recording of him justifying stop-and-frisk policies surfaces. Brooklyn-born rapper Pop Smoke is fatally shot during a home invasion in Hollywood Hills, Calif. at age 20; he is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Unarmed, Black 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery is fatally shot in Glynn County, Ga. by two white men, father and son Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael, while jogging. The two white men are not arrested until May when they are charged with felony murder. The incident is caught on cellphone video by William “Roddie” Bryan, who is also arrested and charged with murder. Robert Williams walks into the 41st Precinct in the Bronx and opens fire on officers striking Lt. Jose Gautreaux. Williams also ambushes two cops sitting in a marked police van in the Mott Haven section shooting Officer Paul Stroffolino in the neck. Both officers survived. Author Grace F. Edwards dies at 87. Mathematician and “hidden figure” Katherine Johnson dies at age 101; her calculations of orbital mechanics were crucial to NASA. A fire destroys the 140-year-old Shiloh Baptist Church in Elizabeth, N.J. Child actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa dies at 15; she is best known for her role in Disney’s “Queen of Katwe.” Mayor Bill de Blasio announces he’s endorsing Bernie Sanders for U.S. President. Former filmmaker Harvey Weinstein is found guilty on rape charges and sentenced to 23 years in prison. Actress Ja’Net DuBois dies at age 74; she is best known for her role as Willona Woods on the 1970s sitcom “Good Times.” Restaurateur, chef, model and business owner Barbara Smith (better known as B. Smith) dies at age 70 from Alzheimer’s disease. The first death from COVID-19 in the U.S. is reported in Washington state. Joe Biden wins the South Carolina primaries.
The city’s Plastic Bag Ban takes effect, requiring retailers to cease giving away plastic bags and charge for reusable bags. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg drops out of the presidential race. Women’s History Month commemorates 100 years since the adoption of the 19th Amendment––it gave women the right to vote in 1920. While campaigning at a Black church in Alabama, former NYC mayor and presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks at a commemoration for Bloody Sunday. Black congregants turn their back on him during his speech because of his previous support for stop-and-frisk. On Super Tuesday, 14 states and American Samoa vote in primaries giving Joe Biden 726 delegates. Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren suspend their presidential campaigns. The World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The first case of COVID-19 is confirmed in New York City. The patient is a 39-year-old health care worker who returned home to Manhattan from Iran. The first recorded case of person-to-person spread in New York is confirmed in New Rochelle. Mayor Bill de Blasio announces that there are 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, MTA employees begin disinfecting subways and buses every 72 hours. Rev. Jesse Jackson postpones his annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit in the city over COVID-19 concerns. The stock market crashes as share prices fall sharply, in response to economic concerns and the impact of COVID-19. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunges more than 2,000 points. President Trump announces a 30-day ban on incoming travel from Europe. The corner of East Tremont Avenue and Unionport Road in the Bronx is renamed after civil rights leader and local resident Claudette Colvin, who was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala. before Rosa Parks. Filmmaker Spike Lee is named the first Black jury president at the Cannes Film Festival. The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College cancels its annual National Black Writers Conference due to COVID-19. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, is fatally shot eight times by Louisville police during a no-knock warrant as part of a narcotics investigation. Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner dies at age 81. The Tri-State area experiences its first COVID-19 death in New Jersey, the victim is a 60-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Gov. Phil Murphy declares a state of emergency in the state. Filmmaker Sabria Bushra dies at age 66. Rory Gamble is named first African American president of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. Assemblyman Charles Barron announces he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and is hospitalized. Weeks later, his wife, Councilwoman Inez Barron also tests positive for the virus. As COVID-19 cases rise in the city, Mayor de Blasio announces that restaurants and bars must do takeout and delivery-only and nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues must close. Broadway theaters also close. Gov. Cuomo announces restrictions on gatherings of 500 people or more. The city’s nearly 1.1 million students in the city are homebound when de Blasio announces that public schools are closing for the rest of the academic year due to the pandemic. President Trump declares a national emergency response due to COVID-19. Actor Idris Elba announces he’s tested positive for COVID-19. The American Red Cross says they have a severe blood shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Civil rights organization leaders, including National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial and NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, request a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer regarding racial equity in the coronavirus response. Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres announces he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Criminal justice advocates call on the city and state to suspend broken windows arrests and similar criminal penalty enforcement policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable populations. Critics say city jails are overcrowded, unsanitary and harbor unsafe conditions. Brooklyn Nets’ player Kevin Durant announces he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Dozens of Black organizers from across New York State call on Black elected officials to “Save Black Lives” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Long Island Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre tests positive for coronavirus. Gov. Cuomo orders all hair salons and barbershops to close in the state amid the COVID-19 outbreak. He also orders all non-essential business employees to work from home. In response to the hunger crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rev. Al Sharpton turns his headquarters in Harlem into a community kitchen to feed those in need. As students across the city are required to participate in remote learning from home after schools close, the city provides laptops and tablets for students to continue their education. However, some students in low-income areas don’t get devices and don’t have adequate internet access. Suffering from low ridership because of the pandemic, the MTA asks for a $4 billion bailout from the federal government. With nearly 80 million people left unemployed due to the pandemic because of businesses closing, mass numbers of people apply for unemployment benefits. The New York Labor Department’s website crashes from so many people trying to submit unemployment claims. The Supreme Court unanimously decides to send media mogul Byron Allen’s $20 billion discrimination lawsuit against media company Comcast back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California. President Trump and Congress agree to distribute $2 trillion in aid to businesses, workers and the health care system impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time in its 86-year history, the Apollo Theater announces that its Amateur Night auditions will be conducted exclusively through online submissions for its summer and fall 2020-21 season. Mayor de Blasio releases 40 inmates from city jails as COVID-19 spreads. Jails reportedly deal with a lack of hand sanitizers, soap and medical care and people living extremely close together. Emmett Till’s cousin, the activist Airicka Gordon-Taylor, dies. Nearly 83,000 people on probation and parole in New Jersey are able to register to vote when legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy goes into effect. As houses of worship are ordered to limit capacity and go virtual, the National Black Church Initiative urges all church leaders to encourage all members who are at least 60 years old and have underlying conditions to forgo services. Demonstrators fight to save the house located at 227 Abolitionist Place (formerly known as Duffield Street) from an impending demolition in Brooklyn. The house belonged to abolitionists Thomas and Harriet Lee-Truesdell who used the home as a station on the Underground Railroad. The pastor of Harlem’s Macedonia Baptist Church, Rev. Isaac Graham dies from COVID-19. Lawyers for Bill Cosby petition the court for his release amid the coronavirus pandemic. Civil rights leader Rev. Joseph E. Lowery dies at age 98. Lowery helped the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought against racial discrimination. Mayor de Blasio calls for a rent freeze for 2.3 million tenants in nearly 1 million rent-stabilized units across the City due to the COVID-19 pandemic and mass unemployment. The Black Business Empowerment Committee says the government’s allocation of emergency and recovery spending for COVID-19 relief isn’t being fairly distributed to Black-owned businesses. The International Olympic Committee and Japan suspend the 2020 Summer Olympics until 2021. The number of COVID-19 infections in the United States exceeds 82,000 becoming the nation with the highest number of cases in the world. The State Department advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel. City officials announced that people will be fined for violating social distancing rules. However, footage reveals that law enforcement are unfairly targeting Black and Latino people to enforce the policy. Beloved leader and activist Principal Dez-Ann Romain of the Brooklyn Democracy Academy passes away from COVID-19 complications at age 36. To handle the high number of COVID-19 patients in the city, the USNS Comfort hospital ship arrives in New York Harbor and field hospitals are set up throughout the city. Soul and R&B singer Bill Withers dies at age 81. Choreographer and dancer Louis Johnson dies at age 90. Police in Rochester, N.Y. fatally shoot Black, unarmed 41-year-old Daniel Prude while he was suffering from a mental health crisis. The incident caught on police body cam shows officers holding him face down on the pavement for over two minutes before he stops breathing. He dies of complications from asphyxia after being taken off life support.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 passes 1 million worldwide with 100,000 dead. The CDC recommends all citizens consider wearing cloth or fabric face coverings in public when not social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. The NYC Department of Health unveils a map to show how COVID-19 is impacting different zip codes. Data reveals that cases are higher in low-income neighborhoods of color in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. More testing sites open in hard hit areas. The federal government deploys 1,000 additional federal medical soldiers to the city. Nearly a month after the pandemic begins, officials appeal to landlords to suspend rent to the city’s tenants who are out of work. Gov. Andrew Cuomo implements a 90-day moratorium on evictions to keep people in their homes. As more COVID-19 patients pack local hospitals, nurses reveal horrendous conditions and treatment at medical facilities including a lack of PPE, little protection of patients with COVID-19 and other dangerous working conditions. Playgrounds and basketball courts and city parks are closed due to COVID-19. President Trump announces that the U.S. will suspend funding to the World Health Organization pending an investigation of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with China. Dr. Cheryl A. Wall, literary scholar dies at 71. During the Easter holiday, churches are encouraged to not hold services due to the pandemic. Jazz pianist and the father of jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, dies at age 85 from COVID-19. As the city releases information about COVID-19 infections in the city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams demands a racial breakdown of infection rates. The first inmate on Rikers Island dies of COVID-19. The founder of Black Enterprise magazine Earl Graves Sr. dies at age 85 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. The State Education Department cancels the June 2020 administration of Regents Exams. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaign and endorses Joe Biden who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is killed in a car accident at age 37. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, officials stress the importance of filling out the 2020 U.S. Census, which citizens can fill out online or by mail. Health officials say that COVID-19 is impacting Black Americans at a higher rate than whites. One NYC doctor at an Urgent Care Facility reports that Black patients with classic COVID-19 symptoms were refused testing and treatment by city hospitals. Student Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad dies from COVID-19 at age 56. Individual payments from the $2.3 trillion federal coronavirus stimulus package begin to be distributed. Most Americans receive checks of up to $1,200. Mayor de Blasio announces the suspicion of the Summer Youth Employment Program. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka implements “Be Still Mondays” by requesting all non-essential businesses to close in the city to close on Mondays to slow the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Cuomo adds $200 million in emergency food assistance for more than 700,000 low-income households enrolled in SNAP. Cuomo signs an executive order requiring all New Yorkers to wear face coverings in public. Black Saturday Night Live star Michael Che pays rent for over 100 NYCHA apartments. An analysis reveals that one-third of those who have died from the coronavirus are African American. As a result of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan reports that crime is on the rise, most notably homicides, burglaries and car thefts. The owner of Paris Blues jazz club in Harlem, Samuel J. Hargress Jr, dies at age 85. The activist, author and Catholic priest Father Lawrence E. Lucas dies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announces that over 1.8 million New York workers have been directly impacted by COVID-19 as thousands of nonessential businesses close their doors. A report by the U.S. Department of Justice alleges sexual abuse at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, NJ. Zimbabwe celebrates 40 years since it declared its independence from Britain in 1980. Pulmonology specialist Dr. Wanda Huff dies at age 72.
The city launches free COVID-19 testing sites at six NYCHA developments. Gov. Cuomo’s office releases a report stating that as many as 1 in 5 New York City residents may have been exposed to COVID-19. City Hall announces that NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray is leading the new COVID-19 racial disparity task force. Mayor de Blasio calls on the MTA to close some subway stations overnight to curb the number of homeless people using stations and subways as a refuge. Data released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer reveals 75% of all frontline workers at risk for contracting COVID-19 are people of color. Gov. Cuomo announces that the MTA will shut down all subway service from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for disinfecting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States passes 1 million. Nigeria-born Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen dies at age 79. City officials ramp up their push to get New Yorkers to fill out the 2020 Census amid the COVID-19 pandemic after only 40% of the city fills it out.
The NYPD comes under fire over unequal aggressive policing while enforcing COVID-19 social distancing ordinances. In one incident, NYPD officer Francisco Garcia is seen on cellphone video violently enforcing social distancing rules on a couple in Manhattan when an unarmed Black male bystander comes on the scene. Garcia swears, slaps and punches the Black man before arresting him. Garcia later resigns from the force. The Department of Justice drops charges against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the Trump–Russia case. Beloved Paterson, N.J. principal of Eastside High School, Dr. Gerald Glisson dies from COVID-19 complications at age 46. Former President Barack Obama delivers three virtual commencement addresses for the nation’s students graduating in the Class of 2020, including one for students graduating from HBCUs. Several children around the country are hospitalized for Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) possibly linked to COVID-19. Several African nations file a $200 billion class-action lawsuit against the Chinese government over the COVID-19 outbreak. Gov. Cuomo extends the eviction moratorium to August to aid thousands of New Yorkers unable to pay rent due to the pandemic in their homes. The Trump administration announces the Operation Warp Speed plan to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Singer Betty Wright dies at age 66. Video of the February fatal shooting of unarmed Ahmaud Arbery by white father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael in Georgia is released on social media. In response, demonstrations take place across the nation. A grand jury charges Gregory and Travis with murder for Arbery’s death. Another white man who filmed the incident, William “Roddie” Bryan, is also charged in the murder. Rock ‘n’ roll legend Richard Penniman, known as “Little Richard,” dies at age 87 from bone cancer. Music executive and producer Andre Harrell dies at age 59 from heart problems. Nicholas Johnson is named Princeton University’s first Black valedictorian. The Broadway League announces that Broadway shows will be canceled through the summer. To combat the rise of COVID-19 in the Black community, the city opens several testing sites at Black churches. The annual Malcolm X Day Birthday Pilgrimage commemorating the civil rights leaders’ 95th birthday is canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, revelers gather a vehicle caravan on 125th Street in Harlem and a virtual celebration on Zoom. A report released by the city’s Department of Health reveals that Black and Latino New Yorkers are dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of whites. More than 900 NYCHA residents have died from the virus. Jonnel Doris is appointed to serve as the commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services. In response to the over-policing of Black residents during social distancing enforcement, hundreds rally at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Basketball legend Patrick Ewing is hospitalized with COVID-19. Harlem veterinarian Dr. Julie Butler dies from COVID-19 complications: Butler is best known for opening 145th Street Animal Hospital. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden comes under fire during a radio interview on “The Breakfast Club” with Charlamagne tha God where Biden said, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” Viral video shows a confrontation between Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper and white dog walker Amy Cooper (no relation) in Central Park where Christian requested Amy to leash her dog. Amy calls 911 falsely claiming that “There is an African American man—I am in Central Park—he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.” Global outrage ensues after a video posted on social media shows white police officer Derek Chauvin putting his knee on the neck of Black, unarmed 46-year-old George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest in Minneapolis, MN. Floyd was being arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money at a store. Four officers, including Chauvin are fired and charged with murder and manslaughter. Protests and civil unrest occur around the world in response to the killing: in 2,000 U.S. cities and 60 countries there are over 7,300 demonstrations. Many of the demonstrations are led by Black Lives Matter activists. In New York, demonstrators are arrested during protests with uprisings occurring across the city over several days. Mayor de Blasio enforces a curfew and Gov. Cuomo puts the National Guard on standby after looting and violence occurs. Floyd’s killing leads to a racial reckoning in America with proposed police reforms, the taking down of monuments, cultural changes to entertainment and companies showing support to Black causes. Organizers of the African American Day Parade in Harlem announce the 2020 parade will be virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 33 million Americans have filed jobless claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed the 2014 police killing of Eric Garner, is released from prison early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orta was serving a four-year sentence on drug and weapons charges. John Hopkins University announces that 100,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and cases reach 6 million worldwide. Jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb dies at age 91.
Funeral services for George Floyd take place in Minneapolis. Rev. Al Sharpton delivers the eulogy and boxer Floyd Mayweather pays for the funeral. Services are also held in North Carolina and Houston. Floyd is buried in Pearland, Texas. Millions of people and companies participate in “Blackout Tuesday” on social media by posting black squares on their social media profiles to collectively protest against racism and police brutality. Former NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous is selected president of the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way. Air Force General Charles Brown becomes the first African American military service chief and the first African American Air Force chief of staff. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy nominates Fabiana Pierre-Louis to the New Jersey Supreme Court and she is later confirmed as the first Black woman to serve on the court. Basketball legend Michael Jordan commits $100 million of his fortune to help with racial equality and justice. New York City begins Phase 1 reopening’s from the COVID-19 pandemic with retail stores reopening for curbside and limited in-store pickup and construction and manufacturing resuming with social distancing. In the wake of the George Floyd killing, former and current staff members in Mayor de Blasio’s administration demand he act on police reform. New Jersey Attorney General Attorney General Gurbir Grewal releases dashcam video of the police shooting death of Maurice Gordon, who was killed in May. Sgt. Randall Wetzel pulled Gordon over for alleged speeding on the Garden State Parkway. The two got into a scuffle with Wetzel firing his weapon killing Gordon. The shooting occurs out of the camera’s view. The state Senate and Assembly vote in favor of a repealing law 50-a, which permits police personnel and disciplinary records from being released publicly. Gov. Andrew Cuomo later signs the bill. NBC News Social Media Strategist and former NABJ President Sarah Glover pens an op-ed urging news outlets to capitalize the “B” when using the word Black in news stories similar to the Amsterdam News. Several mainstream news outlets adopt the practice and The Associated Press makes the change. In a disturbing trend, Black men are found around the nation hanging from trees in what look like lynchings. Two Black men are found in the Tri-State area including 20-year-old Amanuel “Amani” Kildea, who was found in New Jersey and 27-year-old Bronx resident Dominique Alexander. The hangings are ruled suicides by police.
The Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act is signed into law criminalizing the use of chokeholds that result in injury or death by law enforcement. NYPD Officer David Afanador is suspended without pay after he’s caught on cellphone video placing a man in a chokehold in Queens. Early voting takes place in New York for the first time during the Primary Elections. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announces that the Department will phase 600 officers out of its plainclothes anti-crime unit and transition them to detectives neighborhood policing units. Police in Atlanta fatally shoot Black 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks. Officers Devin Brosnan Garrett Rolfe kill Brooks while placing him under arrest during a traffic check. Brooks tries to run away and points a Taser and Rolfe shoots Brooks three times killing him. Rolfe is charged with murder while Brosnan is charged with assault. In response to the killing, Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields resigns. Police and the city’s Parks & Recreation Department investigate after a noose is found in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. Mayor de Blasio announces that NYPD bodycam footage must be released after 30 days when officers use a firearm, stun gun or force resulting in death or injury. New York Attorney General Letitia James hears testimony from dozens of protesters about their negative interactions with police during the George Floyd protests. President Trump holds his first 2020 indoor campaign rally in months at the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, Okla. amid the spread of COVID-19 ignoring CDC guidelines for indoor gatherings. As the summer season gets underway the city sees a sharp increase in complaints about illegal fireworks. Several street murals are painted on streets across the nation with the words “Black Lives Matter” in response to the recent police killings of unarmed African Americans. New York receives its first Black Lives Matter street mural in Brooklyn on Fulton Street and Marcy Avenue. The mural is painted by 30 visual artists joined by artists Cey Adams and Dawud West. Similar street murals are painted throughout the city including Downtown Brooklyn, Midtown Manhattan and Harlem. In the wake of the George Floyd police killing and nationwide racial reckoning, several companies close early in observance of Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of African slavery. New York State declares Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees and Mayor de Blasio makes Juneteenth a school holiday. New York City enters Phase 2 reopening’s as cases in the city go down. Hair salons and barbershops reopen with strict guidelines and restaurants are permitted to open for outdoor dining. Retail businesses reopen to shoppers at limited capacity. NASCAR announces that it will no longer permit Confederate flags to be displayed at its races. Black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace finds a noose in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. After an investigation, the alleged noose is determined to be a pull-down for the garage door. In the Primary Elections, Joe Biden is elected as the Democratic Party nominee for president. In other races, Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres wins to run to represent the Bronx’s 15th District in Congress and school principal Jamaal Bowman wins to run for the Bronx’s 16th District seat in Congress. Councilperson Donovan Richards wins in the primary to be the next Queens borough president. NASA names its Washington, D.C. headquarters after its first Black female engineer, Mary W. Jackson. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 Gov. Cuomo and the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut require travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days if they travel from an area with high infection rates. Amid public outcry, Mayor de Blasio proposes to cut $1 billion from the NYPD’s $6 billion budget. As summer is in full swing, the city sees a sharp rise in the number of shootings with 8 shootings and 11 victims in a 24-hour period. COVID-19 cases in the U.S. reach 2.5 million COVID-19 cases. Jazz pianist Freddy Cole dies at age 88. The Franklin Avenue and President Street subway stations in Brooklyn are renamed after Medgar Evers College.
The COVID-19 pandemic causes the proposed city budget to shrink from over $95 billion to $87 billion putting 22,000 city workers in danger of being laid off. The city eventually borrows the funding needed from the state to keep people working. Beloved Harlem Hospital doctor Herbert Louis Thornhill dies. Assemblyman Charles Barron and City Council Member Inez Barron lead a rally at the African Burial Ground demanding the passage of a bill providing reparations from New York State to Black people. Civil rights lawyer and former counsel to Mayor Bill de Basio Maya Wiley announces she’s running to become mayor of New York City. Jazz trumpeter Eddie Gale dies at age 78. The Broadway League pushes back the date to reopen Broadway shows again to Jan. 2021. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams blames the rise in violence in the city on the NYPD alleging the department is intentionally not responding to crimes. Actress Naya Rivera dies at age 33 when she drowns while on a rented boat with her son in California. The city enters Phase 2 reopenings with an expansion of outdoor dining and personal care services. Outdoor activities including basketball, tennis and soccer are able to resume. Due to COVID-19 cases still up in the city, indoor dining is not permitted. Over the 4th of July weekend, the city sees 30 shootings with 40 people being shot. Rapper Kanye West announces his candidacy in the 2020 presidential election. Amy Cooper, the white woman accused of calling 911 and falsely claiming she was being attacked by a Black man in Central Park in May, is charged with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The Supreme Court rules that President Trump must release his financial records for examination by prosecutors in New York. The city invests $157 million to provide high-speed internet access to low-income communities. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza unveil their plan to reopen public school for the academic year with a mix of in-person and remote learning. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issues a memorandum banning the display of the Confederate flag. In what begins as an active hurricane season, Tropical Storm Fay blows through the city bringing heavy rain which floods several subway stations. City officials announce that large events in the city requiring a permit are canceled through Sept. 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic—this includes the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn, which annually brings out over 1 million people. Travel enforcement operations commence at airports across New York State to help ensure travelers are following the state’s quarantine restrictions and to help contain the rates of COVID-19 transmission. Travelers coming from states with high infection rates are required to complete a form from the state’s Department of Health and quarantine; those who don’t fill out forms or don’t quarantine must pay hefty fines. Eighteen sailors are injured by an explosion and fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego, Calif. New York City records no COVID-19 deaths for the first time in months. Hospitalizations fall below 700, the lowest levels since mid-March. Gun violence hits a boiling point when 22-month-old Davell Gardner Jr. is fatally shot in Brooklyn. The toddler was at Raymond Bush Playground in Bed-Stuy when two men opened fire. They are later arrested. In another shooting, 17-year-old high school basketball star Brandon Hendricks-Ellison is gunned down in the Bronx just days after graduating from high school. The teen was headed to St. John’s University. Rev. Al Sharpton delivers Hendricks-Ellison eulogy at his funeral. With COVID-19 cases rising among New Yorkers between the ages of 20-29, the city launches a public outreach campaign geared toward younger New Yorkers, including additional mobile testing sites. Dueling demonstrations in Brooklyn become violent when Blue Live Matter and pro-Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters confront each other in Bay Ridge. Civil Rights Movement icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis dies at age 80 from pancreatic cancer. Lewis lies in state in the United States Capitol Rotunda making him the first African American lawmaker to receive the honor. Minister and civil rights activist C.T. Vivian dies on the same day as Lewis at age 95 from natural causes. New York City enters Phase 4 reopenings allowing film and TV crews to resume filming, zoos to reopen with reduced capacity and sporting events to resume with no fans in stadiums. Indoor dining remains prohibited. In the first major heat wave, temperatures soar to over 90 degrees for several days. Due to the rise in crime and protests in the city, President Trump threatens to send federal law enforcement to aid police. City and law enforcement officials confirm the federal assistance is not needed. The city announces a $22 million investment to restore and rebuild NYCHA community centers for youth. NYC Health + Hospitals announces that the NYC Test & Trace Corps will offer hotel services for New Yorkers who test positive for COVID-19 to quarantine from people they are living with. New York City jazz promoter Nat White dies at age 90. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduces a bill requiring all federal law enforcement officers to identify their name, agency and badge number on their uniform at all times while on duty or serving the public. Black Lives Matter murals painted on streets across the city are vandalized. Investigative journalism website ProPublica releases a database to the public of disciplinary records of NYPD officers. Restaurant review site Yelp reports that COVID-19 restrictions caused over half of New York City restaurants to close permanently. The State Assembly passes legislation establishing Abolition Commemoration Day, which will be observed on the second Monday in July: the day commemorates the ending of slavery in New York State on July 4, 1827. Former Republican presidential candidate and business owner Herman Cain dies from COVID-19 at age 74. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 passes 15 million worldwide.
Tropical Storm Isaias brings up to 6 inches of rain with wind gusts of as high as 80 mph to the city. The storm brings minor flooding to Lower Manhattan and brings down trees. More than 2.5 million people are left without power in the Tri-State area. Residents living in Rockaway and South Jamaica, Queens report continued power issues weeks after the storm. The NYPD confirms that the number of shootings in the city so far in 2020 has surpassed the total for all of 2019. Analytics and advisory company Gallup launches its Center for Black Voices with the goal of having an ongoing study of Black life. Two explosions caused by unsafely stored ammonium nitrate kill over 220 people, injure thousands, and severely damage the port in Beirut, Lebanon. A study from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business finds that racial bias persists in rideshare platforms like Uber, Lyft and Via. The study claims that rideshare drivers are participating in discriminatory practices when they find out who they’re picking up. New York Attorney General Letitia James, as part of a coalition of 22 attorneys general, has taken legal action to stop the Trump administration’s unlawful attempts to limit immigrants from accessing the nation’s asylum process. Former President Barack Obama endorses Jamaal Bowman for Congress. Harlem Academy breaks ground on a permanent five-story, 29,000-square-foot building. New York Attorney General Letitia James files a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA) alleging widespread corruption. A major power outage occurs in Upper Manhattan putting over 70,000 New Yorkers in the dark for nearly an hour. ConEdison says the outage was due to an issue on a transmission system. Gov. Cuomo announces that all schools in the state can reopen for the upcoming academic year. The U.S. reaches 5 million COVID-19 cases. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announces California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate; she is the first Black woman selected as a vice-presidential candidate from a major political party. The NYPD reports the rise in gun violence in the city causes applications for firearm licenses to nearly double from 2019 to 2020. Afro Latinx activist Miriam Jiménez Román dies at age 69. The December 12th Movement holds the National Reparations Day Caravan at Trump Tower. To keep COVID-19 cases down in the city, travel checkpoints pop up at Penn Station, Port Authority Bus Terminal and at six bridges to make sure people quarantine when returning to New York from highly infected states. Vehicles are stopped at random at bridge checkpoints. Former New York City Council Member Ruben Wills is released from prison. Wills was found guilty in 2017 of corruption charges. The New York Blood Center announces that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major blood shortage. They estimate that 7,000 donations per week are needed to combat the virus. Hunger Free New York City reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused more New Yorkers to enroll in federally-funded food assistance programs due to mass unemployment. Nationally, 38% of parents report skipping meals or cutting portions for their children because they lacked enough money for food. A shooting outside the White House prompts President Trump to be escorted out of a live press briefing by the Secret Service. Bowling alleys, museums and other cultural institutions reopen with limited capacity. A 51-year-old man is shot and injured near the White House. The National Black Theatre earns its first OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence in Production and Continued Advocacy on behalf of Black artists. As schools prepare to reopen, a poll released by New York State United Teachers reveals that 81% of state school staff members agree the determining factors to reopen schools should be the health and safety of students and faculty. Meanwhile city public school teachers report having to buy their own personal protective equipment. As crime continues to rise, the NYPD reports that 40 people are shot over a two-day period. Suspects Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr. are arrested for the 2002 murder of rap legend Jason Mizell, better known as DJ Jam Master Jay of Run DMC. Gyms are permitted to reopen in the city with strict guidelines including mandatory masks, social distancing and 33% capacity. The presidential nominating conventions take place with the Democratic National Convention commencing in Milwaukee and the Republic National Convention occurring in Charlotte, N.C. Joe Biden formally accepts the Democratic Party nomination for president and Kamala Harris accepts the vice presidential nomination. Both conventions are held virtually and with little crowds in accordance with CDC guidelines. However, the Republican Party convention comes under fire for holding some events with large crowds, little social distancing and many attendees not wearing masks. President Trump delivers his nomination acceptance speech on the White House lawn. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is arrested and charged with fraud over a fundraising campaign to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border; he is released on a $5 million bail bond after pleading not guilty. Positive COVID-19 tests go down to less than 1% for 15 straight days in New York State. Outrage ensues after Black, unarmed 29-year-old Jacob Blake is shot and left paralyzed by white police officer Rusten Sheskey in Kenosha, Wis. Blake’s three sons were in the backseat of his vehicle when the shooting occurred. The shooting is caught on video and causes protests and uprisings. In one demonstration, two protesters are fatally shot by white 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse. He’s not immediately arrested and is later charged with homicide and unlawful possession of a firearm. Forbes reports that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the first person in history to have a net worth exceeding $200 billion. The city’s Department of Small Business Services releases a Black entrepreneurship report and uses its partnerships to launch new programs for Black business owners. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway resigns claiming she wants to focus on her children. The 2020 “March on Washington” is held virtually; thousands gather at the Lincoln Memorial for the event. Speakers at the event include Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, Attorney Benjamin Crump and the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner. Actor Chadwick Boseman dies at age 43 from colon cancer. He is best known for his starring role as T’Challa in Marvel’s Black Panther film. The Brookings Institution reports that COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death for Black Americans. Jazz drummer Charlie Persipdies at age 91. NASA announces that astronaut Jeanette Epps will make history in 2021 as the first-ever Black woman to fly to the International Space Station on a mission into orbit. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 passes 25 million worldwide. Famed basketball coach John Thompson dies at age 78. He is best known for being the first African American head coach to win a major collegiate championship in basketball when he led the Georgetown University Hoyas to the NCAA Division I national championship in 1984. Black news anchor David Ushery is named co-anchor of NBC 4 New York’s 11 p.m. newscast. Officials mark 30 days until the end of the U.S. Census count. New York City’s self-response rate is 57.3%, and the nation’s is 64.6%. The NYPD reports that there have been over 1,000 shootings in the city, a 60% increase compared to last year.
Fabiana Pierre-Louis is sworn in as the first Black woman to serve on the New Jersey State Supreme Court. The West Indian Day Parade is held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Labor Day holiday weekend sees several shootings across the city. One of the victims is a six year old boy in Crown Heights, Brooklyn who is shot in both legs. The reopening of city schools is delayed after the United Federation of Teachers demands better safety protocols for teachers to protect them from COVID-19. The CDC directs landlords to halt renter evictions through the end of the year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A memo to government agencies from the Trump administration calls on all executive branch agencies to cease funding for diversity and sensitivity training and teachings of critical race theory. The US Open takes place in the city; the tennis event happens without any fans. Police bodycam footage of the March police killing of 41-year-old Black, unarmed Daniel Prude in Rochester, N.Y. shows that Prude was having a mental episode when he was killed. Protests ensue over Prudes’ treatment and New York Attorney General Letitia James empanels a grand jury in the case. COVID-19 infection rates in New York stay under 1% for 30 days. NYC Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia resigns. City Comptroller Scott Stringer announces he’s running for New York City mayor. State officials launch a “COVID-19 Report Card” to track the virus in schools. President Donald Trump announces the formation of the 1776 Commission to support “patriotic education” in opposition of using the “1619 Project”––which teaches about slavery and racism in America––as a teaching tool in schools. Former Florida gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum comes out as bisexual during an interview on the Tamron Hall Show. In March, local media reported that Gillum overdosed on crystal meth along with two other men, including a gay escort. The Louis Armstrong Museum in Queens names Regina Bain as its new executive director. The nation marks 19 years since the Sept. 11 attacks. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no stage and a recording of the names of the victims is played at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan. A report surfaces that President Trump said during an interview that Americans who died in wars are “suckers” and “losers.” Trump denies the report. As the school year gets underway, the department of education reports that 42% of parents are opting for remote learning for their children. The Louisville Metro Government in Kentucky agrees to pay Breonna Taylor’s estate $12 million. Gov. Cuomo announces despite other reopenings, the state is not ready to reopen concert venues and other entertainment venues. Reggae legend Toots Hibbert dies at age 77. Juneteenth is designated as a state and public holiday in New Jersey. Well-known Harlem resident Katherine Nichson turns 100. As Election Day comes near, voter suppression tactics are reported to prevent certain groups from casting their ballots including false robocalls, voter intimidation threats from so-called “poll watchers” and false social media campaigns. The African American Day Parade is held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trump administration orders a ban on downloads of social media platforms TikTok and WeChat due to security concerns. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at age 87 from pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg’s body lies in state at the U.S. Capitol making her the first woman to receive the honor; she is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Three days after Ginsburg’s death, President Trump nominates conservative Appeals Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace her. The U.S Justice Department designates New York City and other cities as “anarchist jurisdictions” citing high crimes and violent protests, just weeks before the General Election. City schools reopen for the academic year with some buildings open for in-person learning. NYC Hospitality Alliance reports that 90% of bars and restaurants are unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minneapolis City Council votes to rename a street after police killing victim George Floyd. A Kentucky grand jury indicts only one of the three police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Brett Hankison is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for endangering Taylor’s neighbors with his shots but no charges for Taylor’s death. Recordings of the grand jury are later released after public outcry and protest over the decision. The city opens its own COVID-19 lab. Newark enters the final stages of replacing lead service water lines. A school in Teaneck, N.J. is named after beloved 88-year-old Black civil rights leader and retired teacher Theodora Smiley Lacey. Poet and music critic and columnist Stanley Crouch dies at age 74. President Trump voices concerns about voter fraud in mail-in ballots and refuses to agree to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the presidential election. New Jersey sees a major spike in COVID-19 cases as positivity rates go up as much since August. Gov. Cuomo extends the moratorium on COVID-19 evictions through Jan. 1. COVID-19 cases in parts of the city rise. In response Mayor de Blasio and city officials impose restrictions and closures in zip codes to contain the spread. The New York Times obtained more than two decades of data from President Trump’s personal and business tax returns after he refused to release them since entering office. City officials announce that fines will be imposed on New Yorkers who do not comply with the required mask mandate. Law officers enforce COVID-19 restrictions in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods as cases in the neighborhood see a dangerous spike. Many residents and religious leaders in the Orthodox Jewish community refuse to follow COVID-19 guidelines. The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden takes place in Cleveland, Ohio. The debate is criticized as both candidates argue and President Trump constantly interrupts leading to rule changes for remaining debates. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reaches 30 million worldwide and one million deaths. The U.S. death toll surpasses 200,000. Reports indicate that calls to 311 about homelessness were up 72% in August compared to last year. The Mayor’s Management Report reports that homelessness in the city is at a five-year high. Calls to 311 about homelessness have gone up 72% compared to last year. Confusion arises as the U.S. Census announces via Twitter that the 2020 Census count will end on Oct. 5 despite a federal judge ruling ending the count at the end of October. This prompts local Census officials to ramp up their push for people to fill out the Census.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump announce they have tested positive for COVID-19. Several other people in the White House test positive including counselors to the president, Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway. Trump spends three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and receives experimental treatments. Music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and educator Steve Perry open the third campus to their Capital Preparatory Charter school in the Bronx. Businesses and schools in 20 zip codes are closed due to rises in COVID-19 cases. Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris participate in their only debate in Salt Lake City, Utah; the two are separated by plexiglass due to COVID-19 concerns. The FBI announces that 13 men from militia group Wolverine Watchmen have been charged in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over COVID-19 restrictions. The City Council votes to expel Bronx Council Member Andy King amid allegations of misconduct, abusing staff, taking bribes and stealing city funds. Harlem native and Negro League All-Star Jim Robinson dies at age 90. The New York Sheriff’s Office breaks up a rave party with over 100 attendees in Queens that violated social distancing rules. The Franklin Ave. and President Street subway stations in Brooklyn are co-named after Medgar Evers College. A Morris County prosecutor rules the hanging death of 20-year-old Amanual “Amani” Kildea, a suicide. Kildea was found in June hanging from a tree in Lewis Morris Park in Morris Township, N.J. The NYPD partners with several civil rights organizations, the New York Urban League, Robin Hood and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, police reforms. Joyce Dinkins, the wife of New York City’ first Black mayor, David Dinkins, dies at age 90. Harlem vendor William Welcome dies during a robbery at age 72. Videos posted to social media show Orthodox Jews and police clashing Brooklyn over enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions. The Senate Judiciary Committee convenes four days of hearings to determine the suitability of Amy Coney Barrett for a position on the Supreme Court. The Senate confirms her as a Supreme Court associate justice is 52–48 vote. New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reports the MTA is in desperate need of federal funding or public transit risers could face service reductions and fare hikes. Singer reggae Johnny Nahs dies at age 80. On the 25th anniversary of the Million Man March, Man Up! Inc. Founder and Executive Director Andre T. Mitchell leads Black men in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to a rally at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan. The AmNews partners with progressive group People for the American Way for an art installation on the facade of the AmNews’ building; the installation consists of a sign that read “ENOUGH!!! DUMP TRUMP VOTE 2020.” Families of loved ones killed by police, including the family of Breonna Talyor, hold a rally in the city in front of Trump International to urge people to vote. President Trump and former Vice President Biden do not participate in a second debate due to Trump’s refusal to participate in a virtual debate. Instead, the two hold separate town hall meetings. Trump and Biden participate in person in their final debate in Nashville, Tenn. The Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Tampa Bay Rays to win the 2020 World Series. After delaying it due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city enforces its plastic bag ban. Retailers can no longer give shoppers single-use plastic bags and must charge for reusable bags. As COVID-19 cases rise in the Tri-State area, Gov. Cuomo advises New Yorkers to not go to New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania for nonessential travel. Thousands attend the 25th annual Protest Against Police Brutality in Union Square. Rapper and actor Ice Cube is criticized for meeting with the Trump administration about Ice Cube’s “Contract With Black America.” Ice Cube says he never met with Trump himself. As a COVID-19 vaccine is being prepared, Gov. Cuomo announces the state’s plan to distribute it. The AmNews endorses Joe Biden for U.S. president. City Comptroller Scott Stringer proposes a plan to make CUNY community colleges free. The FDA approves the first COVID-19 treatment. An NYPD officer is suspended without pay after he violates the department’s policy of being apolitical when he shouts “Trump 2020” on his patrol car’s bullhorn in Brooklyn. As COVID-19 cases rise nationally, Dr. Anthony Fauci says that family gatherings are to blame for the increase in cases. Officials in Newark take strong measures to address the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as cases rise sharply, including closing nonessential businesses early. Protests erupt in Philadelphia after video is released showing the police shooting death of Black 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. Wallace allegedly had a knife and when he refused to drop it, officers fired. Early voting for the General Election begins in New York. Voters report long lines, broken machines and other issues as they try to cast their ballots; the city’s Board of Elections extends voting hours to meet the demand. Mayor de Blasio advises New Yorkers not to travel for the upcoming holiday season to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Despite Broadway being shut down due to the COVID-19, nominations for the Tony Awards are announced: Slave Play, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, A Soldier’s Play, Blair Underwood, Audra McDonald and David Alan Grier are among the nominees. The Broadway League extends its shutdown of Broadway theatres for a third time, this time until May 30, 2021. Al Howard, the owner of Harlem’s last remaining jazz club and bar, Showman’s Café, dies at age 93. A caravan of supporters of President Trump attempt to run a Joe Biden campaign bus off the road in Texas during a campaign tour. The FBI investigates the incident. Brooklyn Borough President demands assistance for NYCHA tenants after lead paint is found in 9,000 public housing apartments. Former Queens City Council Member Archie Spigner dies at age 92. Political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim, 69, has a warrant issued for his arrest by Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Dooley’s office for allegedly committing voter fraud. As gun violence rips through the city, a gun buyback event hosted by Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark collects 134 guns. The NYPD reports that murders are up 37% over the last 10 months compared to last year. On Halloween night, a man and his 8-year-old daughter are injured when they are shot in Harlem. Gov. Cuomo announces all out-of-state visitors must test negative for COVID-19 three days before arriving in the state. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 passes 45 million worldwide. COVID-19 cases in America surpasses 9 million.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo eliminates the COVID-19 quarantine travel advisory list and requires travelers to New York to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of arriving in the state. Anyone testing positive or who doesn’t show proof must quarantine for 14 days. The 2020 United States presidential election takes place and a winner is not named on Election Day. America anxiously watches as mass numbers of mail-in ballots are counted throughout the nation. President Trump requests that ballot counting stop at midnight, however, four days later Joe Biden is the projected winner of the election taking 306 of the 270 Electoral College votes and getting over 81 million popular votes. Kamala Harris is the first woman and first Black person elected vice president of the United States. Biden wins in several key battleground states Trump won in 2016, including Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Michigan. In Georgia, the state’s U.S. Senate races are too close to call and must go to a runoff. The results would determine which party has control of the U.S. Senate. Trump claims election fraud and his campaign begins filing several lawsuits to overturn the results. The lawsuits fail due to a lack of evidence. His supporters organize protests across the nation convinced that Biden was elected fraudulently. Voters elect to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey. Mississippi approves a new state flag to replace the previous design that featured a Confederate battle flag. Medgar Evers College hosts the 15th National Black Writers Conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference is held virtually. Afro Cuban jazz drummer Cándido dies at age 99. The December 12th Movement celebrates the 51st anniversary of Black Solidarity Day. The NYC Parks Department renames 10 park spaces after notable African Americans. The first successful phase III trial of a COVID-19 vaccine is announced by drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech, which is 90% effective according to interim results. Moderna’s mRNA vaccine is proven to be 94.5% effective. The company files an application for emergency use authorization. Three Black women are promoted to high ranking positions in the NYPD: Chief Juanita Holmes makes history by becoming the first woman named the new chief of patrol, Assistant Chief Kim Royster is promoted to chief of transportation and inspector Olufunmilola Obe has been appointed as commander of the School Safety Division. Black Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves joins the Juilliard School’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts as distinguished visiting faculty. Nurses are recognized for the perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic during National Nurse Practitioner Week. In one of his first acts as President-elect, Joe Biden announces his COVID-19 Advisory board. Whitney Houston and the Notorious B.I.G. are inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. As COVID-19 cases rise in New York State, Gov. Cuomo announces new statewide restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms and private gatherings. No more than 10 people can gather for a private event and bars, restaurants and gyms must close at 10 p.m. Lawmakers send a letter to NYCHA with concerns that substandard housing conditions have the potential to place residents at a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. They ask the public housing agency for a detailed plan of how the authority is using federal funding under the CARES Act. The Marcy Houses Community Center in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn opens. As COVID-19 cases rise dramatically in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy restricts seating and hours for restaurants, bars, clubs and lounges, and prohibits interstate indoor K-12 and youth sports. Dianna Houenou is appointed chair of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission in New Jersey. New York City officials warn of a second wave of COVID-19 after the highest number of daily new cases is reported since April 24. New Yorkers are advised to not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Public schools in the city close due to the rise in cases and go to remote learning. Donald Trump tests positive for COVID-19. At least eight people are injured in a mass shooting at the Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, Wis. Former President of Ghana Jerry Rawlings dies at age 93. Mayor de Blasio announces that Mental Health Teams of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) health professionals and mental health crisis workers will be dispatched through 911 to respond to mental health emergencies; the pilot program is placed in two high-need precincts. Wilton Daniel Gregory becomes the first African American cardinal when he is named Archbishop of Washington, D.C. President Trump pardons ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announces he will run for New York City mayor in 2021. New York City Mayor David Dinkins dies at age 93 from natural causes. Dinkins was the city’s first African American mayor. Soccer legend Diego Maradona dies at age 60 a month after he was hospitalized and underwent surgery for a blood clot in his brain. Longtime host of the game show Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek, dies at age 80 after battling pancreatic cancer. Legislation requiring and regulating police body cameras by law enforcement in New Jersey is signed into law. Boxers Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. face off in an exhibition match at the Staples Center in Los Angeles—the result was a draw. State Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein introduce the “Manhattan Mom & Pop Tax Relief Act” that will suspend collection of the Commercial Rent Tax (CRT) during the COVID-19 pandemic from small businesses. After voters elect to legalize recreational marijuana, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal directs all state municipal, county and state prosecutors to adjourn, until at least Jan. 2021, any juvenile or adult case solely involving the following marijuana possession-related offenses. The City of Newark goes on a 10-day lockdown after seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. All nonessential businesses are required to close at 8 p.m. every day, curfews are placed in certain zip codes, all sports are canceled, gatherings are limited to 10 people and religious service attendance is restricted to 25%. As the Thanksgiving holiday occurs, Hunger Free NYC reports that 38% of parents reports they have skipped meals or cut portions for their children because they lacked enough money during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 40% of Black families are struggling with food insecurity. Seven people are shot during a Sweet 16 birthday party in Brooklyn; a 20-year-old woman is killed during the shooting. The other victims range in age from 14 to 20. The 48th annual AUDELCO Awards are held virtually. The event is co-hosted by Tony Award winner LaChanze and playwright/actor Roger Guenveur Smith. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 passes 60 million worldwide. The United States surpasses 13 million cases of COVID-19.
Wall Street executive Ray McGuire announces his candidacy for mayor of New York City. Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza reopen schools for pre-K to 5th grade and District 75 for in-person learning after closing all schools weeks earlier. Middle school and high school students stay in remote learning. Former New York City mayor and personal lawyer to President Donald Trump Rudy Giuliani tests positive for COVID-19. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate unveil a $908 billion COVID-19 relief package. Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins is re-elected as senate president pro tempore and majority leader of the New York State Senate. Former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia announces she’s running for New York City mayor. Donovan Richards is formally sworn in as Queens borough president. Richards won a special election in November to replace former Queens BP Melinda Katz, who was previously elected Queens District Attorney. Richards is the first Black man to serve as Queens borough president. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court announces that they will let Bill Cosby appeal a sexual assault conviction from 2018. Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and city Housing Preservation and Development commissioner Shaun Donovan announces he’s running for mayor of New York City. State Sen. Kevin Parker proposes a bill that would make racism a public health crisis. Actor Tommy “Tiny” Lister dies Jr. at age 62. He is best known for his role in the films Friday and The Fifth Element. President-elect Joe Biden asks Dr. Anthony Fauci to remain in the White House Coronavirus Task Force and become its chief medical advisor. Gov. Cuomo places more restrictions on the state after a spike in COVID-19 cases. Cuomo closes indoor dining statewide to slow the spread of the virus. He also asks retired doctors and nurses to help with the increasing hospitalizations. The House passes the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act to decriminalize recreational cannabis at the federal level. East Orange, N.J. mayor Ted R. Green tests positive for COVID-19; he reports he’s asymptomatic and quarantines for 14 days. A lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, is denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. Black country music legend Charley Pride dies at age 86 from COVID-19 complications. Six people are injured during protests in Manhattan against ICE when a car speeds into the crowd of protesters. Pro-Trump protesters demonstrate in Washington, D.C., including members of the far-right group Proud Boys. Four people are stabbed, one is shot, and 33 people are arrested and six assault police officers during the protest. Pfizer and BioNTech start shipping their vaccine to all 50 states. As COVID-19 cases rise in the state, Gov. Cuomo suspends indoor dining. The first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is administered in New York to Black intensive care nurse Sandra Lindsay of Long Island Jewish Medical Center. The Electoral College votes to officially make Joe Biden the president-elect and Kamala Harris the vice president-elect. President Trump vows to continue his legal fight to overturn the election. President Trump announces that William Barr will resign as United States Attorney General. Barr previously announces the U.S. Department of Justice found no widespread voter fraud during the 2020 General Election. Death row inmate Brandon Bernard is executed in Indiana despite public outcry to allow him to live. Dying at age 40, Bernard was convicted for his role in killing two people when he was 18. A major winter storm hits New York City dumping up to a foot of snow in some parts of the city. The movie “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” premieres on Netflix. The film is the final role for actor Chadwick Boseman, who died in August from cancer. Attorney and political consultant Stacy Lynch announces she’s running for City Council to represent District 7 in Harlem. Jazz pianist Stanley Cowell dies at age 79. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announces major changes in how police use force in the state. Changes include prohibiting all forms of physical force against a civilian, except as a last resort and prohibiting all forms of deadly force against a civilian. Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Caranzza introduce a new school admission process. Students will rank their choices on their middle school application. A highly infectious new strain of COVID-19 spreads in Europe. Former NBA player and coach K.C. Jones dies at age 88. President-elect Joe Biden announces he’s selected Michael S. Regan as the next United States Environmental Protection Agency administrator. If confirmed, Regan would become the first Black man to run the agency. Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond tests positive for COVID-19. Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell all take the COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA authorizes the Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Congress reaches a deal on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that includes a new round of direct payments and help for the unemployed, families and businesses struggling in the pandemic. The House passes the relief bill with a 359-53 vote. The Senate passes the bill with a 91-7 vote. Republicans approve $600 stimulus payments to households, however, Democrats and President Trump want $2,000 payments. Trump later signs the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and spending package bill, averting a partial government shutdown. President-elect Joe Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden receive the COVID-19 vaccine. President Trump issues pardons for dozens of his associates including Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner. A car bomb causes severe damage in downtown Nashville and leaves multiple people injured. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 passes 80 million worldwide. The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States exceeds 300,000. Former Paterson, N.J. principal of Eastside High School and educator Joe Clark dies at age 82 after battling with illness. Clark’s tenure at Eastside High was depicted in the 1989 film “Lean on Me” where Morgan Freeman portrayed Clark.