I don’t think anyone would argue that 2016 was one hell of a year. We lost so many of our favorite iconic celebrities. We saw couples who seemed unbreakable break up. And of course, we witnessed the unpleasantness that was election year. There were just way too many events to mention, but I will try my best to do a rundown of the biggest stories that broke during 2016 – a year that will live in infamy.
David Bowie – We lost this legendary singer/songwriter on January 10. His long, illustrious career spanned over five decades.
Alan Rickman - The illustrious actor who brought Professor Snape to life passed away on January 14th.
Big Ang – Everyone’s favorite ‘Mob Wife’, reality TV star Angela Raiola passed away on February 18th.
Prince – A truly shocking death that I don’t think anyone saw coming. I don’t know about you, but I was pretty sure that the legendary singer was immortal. Unfortunately, we lost him on April 21st.
Muhammad Ali – The iconic professional boxer/civil rights activist passed away on June 3rd.
Gene Wilder – Probably most well-known for his role as Willy Wonka in the movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, we lost the iconic actor on August 29th.
Alan Thicke – December was a tough month because we lost so many. One of my all-time favorite TV dads, Mr. Thicke passed away on December 13th.
George Michael – The iconic 80’s/90’s singer passed away on December 25th, Christmas day.
Carrie Fisher – The beautiful Princess Leia passed away on December 27th.
Debbie Reynolds – As if Carrie Fisher passing away wasn’t bad enough, her actress mom passed away just a day later on December 28th.
Brangelina – Shockingly, or perhaps not so shockingly, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie broke up. Jolie filed for divorce on September 19. It appears to be getting really ugly too, with Jolie implicating Pitt as an unfit parent.
Mary J. Blige and Kendu Isaacs – This one was definitely a shocker. The couple has been married for 13 years, but Blige filed for divorce in July. It is evident that Mr. Isaacs has fallen and bumped his head, because he is asking for around $130K per month in alimony. This includes: $5K for child support (for children who do not belong to Blige), $8K for a personal chef, and over $3K for a personal trainer.
TI and Tiny – Also a bit shocking, Tameka “Tiny” Harris filed for divorce from Clifford “TI” Harris in December. The couple has been together forever, but have been married for only six years. We’ve seen their blended Brady Bunch-like family on their television show TI & Tiny – The Family Hustle. They have three children together, but seven children total (including from previous relationships). There have been a lot of rumors circulating around this relationship for years, so it was not extremely surprising to me, but still sad and disappointing.
And in other news…
Flint Water Crisis – The water in Flint, Michigan has been janky for many years, and there were a lot of cover-ups surrounding this tragedy. However, the Flint Water Crisis became national news in January 2016 when the Governor of Michigan declared a state of emergency for Genesee County. The city was receiving their water through the Flint River, a highly contaminated water source. Many people in this majority African American city now have lead poisoning, Legionnaire’s disease, and countless other health issues because of the contaminated drinking water. Residents have filed a class action lawsuit against local government officials, including the governor, claiming that these officials knew that the water was not safe.
Harambe – There’s no way that you didn’t hear about the gorilla who was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo. This was perhaps the weirdest story of the year. On May 28th, a three-year-old boy fell into the zoo’s gorilla enclosure and was dragged around by the 400-pound gorilla. The zoo opted to fatally shoot the gorilla, fearing that if they shot him with a tranquilizer gun, it would enrage the gorilla and he could possibly hurt the child before the tranquilizer took effect. The child was retrieved from the enclosure, unharmed.
Pokemon Go – This craze, while huge, was short lived. Pokemon Go is an app/game, released in July, that had all of us roaming the streets hunting virtual Pokemon. The premise of the game is super dope for anyone who grew up on the Pokemon cartoon like I did. But it can get boring quickly once you start running out of Poke Balls. Gotta catch ‘em all!
Pulse nightclub shooting - On June 12, a fatal mass shooting took place in Orlando at a popular gay club. A total of 49 people were killed, and at least 53 wounded. This was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. It is believed that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was a homophobic local terrorist, born in the United States and declared his allegiance to ISIS during the shooting.
ITT Tech goes out of business – After losing federal funding, the chain of for-profit schools announced in September that they are shutting down all 130 locations.
Zika – Throughout 2016, the Zika virus spread through the U.S. Most cases were contracted through travel to other countries, namely countries in South America. It was also confirmed that the virus can be transmitted sexually.
Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill – During April, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced that former slave/abolitionist Harriet Tubman would be the new face of the $20 bill. She will be the first woman in 100 years and the first African American ever to appear on money in the U.S. The newly designed bill will be in circulation as early as 2020.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall – These phones were recalled and production immediately came to a halt in October, after several incidents were reported of the phones’ batteries catching fire.
Dakota Access Pipeline – Starting in the Spring of 2016 and continuing throughout the rest of the year were the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The protests were sparked by the proposed building of an oil pipeline that would run under part of Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in parts of North and South Dakota. The Native Sioux tribe of Standing Rock consider the pipeline a threat to the region's clean water and ancient burial grounds. It appears that the tribe is victorious, as there are currently talks to look for alternative routes for the pipeline.
Donald Trump – Perhaps the most disappointing story of 2016 (for me, at least), Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump in November.
Cover Image by Jodeci Zimmerman