While 2013 saw a number of setbacks, including the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act and George Zimmerman’s acquittal, some good things happened, too. The roster of black high-ranking lawmakers expanded, and actors and filmmakers saw success at the box office, with 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station and The Best Man Holiday. Hoping to build on those successes, here is a list of 10 things we’d like to see more of in 2014.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was elected by a landslide during a special election in October to replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died while in office. Booker, the former mayor of Newark, became only the nation’s ninth black senator. We’d like to see more lawmakers rise in power.
Angela Benton represents the kind of talent we’d like to see more of in Silicon Valley. The CEO of Black Web Media is also an entrepreneur and developer as the founder of NewMe, in addition to being a mom. Too few girls and minorities are being groomed for success in technology, science and engineering, and Benton is paving the way for positive change.
We all know about the school-to-prison pipeline for African-American men. Parents, teachers, elected officials and civic leaders should redouble their efforts to shut it down by preparing more young men to enter college. The Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban public schools, reports that 5 percent (pdf) of college students are black males. All efforts should be made to ensure that black men remain enrolled in college, in part by providing them with strong emotional, financial and academic support systems.
This nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington through peaceful demonstrations. The celebration came on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to dismantle a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, a cornerstone of the civil rights movement.
Michelle Obama and New York City’s Chirlane McCray cut strong figures among African-American women. While they are not elected officials, in their official capacities they serve as good role models for young women. We’d like to see more women in their powerful roles.
The dearth of African-American actors and actresses on television and the big screen has long been cause for lament in the black community. But the chorus rose in 2013 as activists noted that only three women have been part of the cast of Saturday Night Live during its 39-year history. Time for a change. Now there’s word that the show plans to add an African-American woman to the cast in January.
By all accounts, 2013 was a good year for black films, including 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and The Best Man Holiday. And on Christmas Day, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is slated to open; it stars Idris Elba, known for his role in the HBO series The Wire. Speaking of which, we’d like to see sexy Elba in more roles. Ahem, just sayin’.
Good riddance to 2013 and all of the racist attacks on natural hair, including on a 12-year-old African-American girl in Florida. We’d like to see more natural hair in 2014.