In the midst of controversy over the ill-fated Sorority Sisters reality series, VH1, the most popular network in African American homes, quietly celebrated it’s 30th birthday. The channel formerly known for music videos (and not washed-up rappers and video vixens-turned-singers) is but one of many Millennial/Gen-X staples marking a big anniversary this year. Check out some of the albums, movies, TV shows and cultural events that we will reminisce over in 2015:
Music:The almost cult-like excitement over D’Angelo’s new album Black Messiah late last year speaks to the staying power of the elusive soul man’s debut album. Those of us who came of age in the 80s and 90s have a serious emotional attachment to Brown Sugar, released in the summer of 1995 during an amazing return to live instrumentation and old school sounds that came to be known as “Neo-Soul.”
Do you remember Girl’s Tyme? The group that would come to be known as Destiny’s Child came together in 1990, and is celebrating 25 years of introducing the world to independent women, bootylicoiusness and of course, King Bey. Also turning a quarter of century this year is Salt & Pepa’s Black’s Magic album, which gave us the theme song to many an awkward Sex Ed video in the 90’s.
Other notable albums that turn 20 in 2015 include: Tupac’s Me Against the World, GZA’s Liquid Swords, Monica’s Miss Thang and Goodie Mob’s Soul Food. Meanwhile,
Outkast’s Stankonia and Erykah Badu’s opus, Mama’s Gun both turn celebrate 15 years of Southern-fried funk.
Not every musical anniversary this year is a good one. 1995 marked an incident that many denounced as the “death of Hip Hop”—the infamous1995 Source Awards, which degenerated into fights, veiled threats by hip-hop artists and the commercially viable but ultimately deadly East Coast/West Coast Rap battle. Ironically, this 20th anniversary comes as Suge Knight has returned to the national spotlight after running over a man with his car on the set of the upcoming NWA biopic.
Speaking of NWA, it was 20 years ago this year that Easy-E announced that he was infected with AIDS and died very shortly thereafter. Two decades later, open discussions about HIV and AIDS—and the importance of condom usage—have increased significantly.
Film: Some of the best black movies of all time are due for a platinum gold re-mastered re-release at your local Target in 2015. The Color Purple, which celebrates it’s 30th birthday this year, reminded ‘mainstream’ audiences that Black people have our own stories to tell, filled with just as much drama, pathos and emotion as a dozen Meryl Streep movies. Also turning 30 this year is the Black Kung- Fu classic The Last Dragon(March 22nd, 1985), which not only inspired Busta Rhymes whole “Dangerous” video but gave us the answer to who should play Wes’s father on How to Get Away with Murder.
In the “This movie made your Momma cry because it was a little too real” category, Waiting To Exhale turns 20 this year, and the late Aaliyah’s Romeo Must Die marks its 15th anniversary.
Love him or hate him, the cultural juggernaut known as Tyler Perry had his first Hollywood film Diary of a Mad Black Woman” hit theatres 10 years ago this month.
Television: Thirty years ago, we were introduced to the baritone voice of Avery Brooks on Spencer for Hire, and while the end of Kevin Clash’s career wasn’t great, the Black puppeteer’s signature muppet Elmo turns 30 in 2015 as well.
Two classic Black shows that launched the careers of dozens of actors and producers turn 25 this year: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and In Living Color, which started the careers of the entire Wayans clan, Jamie Foxx, Jim Carey and Jennifer Lopez.
Hard as it may be to believe but 2015 is the ten year anniversary of Everybody Hates Chris, which still ranks as one of the best Black sitcoms in history.
Sadly, it was 10 years ago this summer that Dave Chappelle abruptly ended Chappelle’s Show, leading to a decade of Black pop culture events that were never properly made fun of on cable.
Cultural Anniversaries:This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Move Bombing in West Philadelphia. It was one of the most depressing and violently racist attacks on the black community to happen after the Civil Rights Movement and in many respects West Philly has only recently begun to recover.
The Million Man March turns 20 this year and while plans for the big anniversary have not yet been announced, the positive outcomes of that march can still be seen in major cities across America.
This year also marks the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which is arguably one of the worst examples of federal government incompetence in American history.
In the world of sports, anniversaries can never be overlooked, and this year marks 15 years since Venus won her first Wimbledon tournament, and the 10-year anniversary of the NBA dress code, which has launched clothing lines galore and all sorts of memes–usually involving Dwayne Wade.
Jason Johnson is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio. He is a frequent guest on MSNBC, CNN, Fox Business and Al Jazeera America. Follow him on Twitter: @DrJasonJohnson