Ukraine was invaded by Russia. As Ukrainians fled to Poland, African students were left behind. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act passed in the House and Senate. The Brooklyn Nets and their fans eagerly awaited NBA player Kyrie Irving’s return to playing after being benched over refusing the vaccine jab. New York City lifted mask mandates in schools. Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hinted at a political comeback six months after resigning in shame due to sexual harassment allegations. Cuomo ultimately did not run again for governor. Famed civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a sermon at the anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March.
The NYPD announced a continued rise in citywide crime stats. Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail for a fake attack. According to the 2020 Census, Black populations grew in suburbs while shrinking in cities. Music legend Harry Belafonte celebrated his 95th birthday, and President of the New York State NAACP Dr. Hazel Dukes turned 90. The CROWN Act, which protects against discrimination of natural hair, passed. Hearings began for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. Nationwide outrage to “FREE BRITTNEY” sparked as WNBA star Brittney Griner remained in Russian custody.
The “slap heard around the world”—actor Will Smith received a deluge of criticism for slapping comedian Chris Rock over a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, at the Oscars. Smith issued a public apology for the Oscar smackdown. The event began a debate online about mental health, Black male anger, and the defense of Black women. Smith was banned from attending the Oscars for the next 10 years.