New York City Schools Chancellor Dr. Meisha Porter announces she is stepping down at the end of the year. She takes a position as CEO of the Bronx Community Foundation. Porter was the first African American woman to serve as schools chancellor. The United States becomes the first country to surpass 50 million COVID-19 cases. A vaccine mandate puts the jobs of nearly 1,100 correctional officers who are unvaccinated in jeopardy. Democrat and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams announces she’s running for governor of Georgia.
Mayor Bill de Blasio extends his order requiring COVID-19 vaccines to include teachers and staff at private and religious schools. Major League Baseball begins a lockout of its players. It is their first lockout since 1990. Mayor Bill de Blasio announces that all private employers in the city will have to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Writer, musician, and producer Greg Tate dies at age 64.
Senior advisor and chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris Symone Sanders announces she’s resigning from her position at the end of the year. Mayor-elect Eric Adams names educator David C. Banks as the city’s next schools chancellor. Banks is the founder of The Eagle Academy for Young Men.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announces she’s suspending her campaign for governor and plans to run for re-election as attorney general. James cites several ongoing investigations her office is conducting as the reason for suspending her gubernatorial campaign. The City Council passes a bill giving U.S. citizens the right to vote in municipal elections. Due to the ongoing spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant and a possible winter surge in cases, Gov. Kathy Hochul implements an indoor mask mandate for public places in New York State unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. A 15th inmate dies at Rikers Island. A tornado outbreak occurs in several states in the South and Midwest, causing major damage and killing at least 50 people. On Monday, Dec. 20, Mayor-elect Eric Adams introduces five career-minded, impressive women as his soon-to-be deputy mayors. With diversity and inclusion branding doing the rounds, Adams is on topic with his picks who are of Black, Asian descent, and white in: Sheena Wright, Anne Williams-Isom, Meera Joshi, Maria Torres-Springer, and Lorraine Grillo. Former CEO of United Way Sheena Wright will be deputy mayor for strategic initiatives; Anne Williams-Isom, former deputy commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, will become the deputy mayor for health and human services; the loss in the commissioner’s office of the Department of Housing and Preservation Development will be the gain for the office of deputy mayor for economic and workforce development with Maria Torres-Springer; former Taxi and Limousine commissioner Meera Joshi will take the office of deputy mayor for operations; and two-decade City Hall veteran Lorraine Grillo—Mayor Bill de Blasio’s head of pandemic recovery troubleshooter—will become Adams’ first deputy mayor. “I am so proud of the history these new deputy mayors are making,” Adams says. “I hope it sends a message that the most qualified people should not sit on the bench when the game is on the line just because of their gender, their ethnicity, or any piece of their identity.” On Dec. 23, former Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter is convicted of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11, fatal shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn. After four days of deliberations the jury finds Potter guilty, despite her on-the-stand tears, and despite her defense team’s position that Wright caused his own death by not complying in the traffic stop, which occurred 10 miles from where one-time-cop Derek Chauvin was on trial in the death of George Floyd. On Monday, Dec. 27, anti-apartheid fighter-turned internationally renowned human rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu passes away in Cape Town, South Africa. Tutu dies aged 90. The affable, lovable peacemaker/Anglican cleric won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. The man affectionately known as The Arch had been ill for sometime. After Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years imprisoned on Robben Island and became South Africa’s president, he named Tutu chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2009, Tutu was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-U.S. President Barack Obama. This week Obama says, “Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere.” “He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing,” notes the Nelson Mandela Foundation.