The daily news cycle is full of repetitive stories whose narrative we memorize over the course of days, and that is compounded by social media. But there are those stories that are either too obscure or not given enough attention to make it across everyone’s radar. That is doubly true when it comes to news about the global Black diaspora. So here are 10 items — among the many — that may have slipped past you, but were still worth knowing about in 2015.
10. Bomb explodes outside Colorado Springs NAACP office
The January 2015 explosion just outside of the NAACP office left many questioning whether or not it was an attack on the national organization and if anyone was targeting Black groups. The accused bomber, Thaddeus Murphy, maintained he was trying to get back at an accountant who worked in the same building and who he said destroyed his tax records. But Henry D. Allen Jr., president of the Colorado Springs branch of the NAACP, said he had no knowledge of any such accountant working from that building, according to The Denver Post. Murphy was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
9. African auto manufacturer puts new vehicles on the road
The United States, Germany and Japan are well known for being the world’s leading auto producing countries. But Ghana, whose economy has seen upswings in recent years, has jumped on to the scene with the Accra-based Kantanka Group. By comparison, it’s a small start up, only able to produce 100 vehicles a month, but CEO Kwadwo Safo Jr. says his cars are ready to enter the market and compete with international brands. “We’ve gotten this far because we believe in the possibilities,” he told CNN. “One day we will be all over the world.”
8. Minnesota Black Lives Matter protestors shot
The Black Lives Matter movement broke out of its social media origins and made its mark socially and politically in 2015, but in places like Minnesota it was also violently targeted. In November, five people were shot near a BLM encampment adjacent to Minneapolis police station during a demonstration protesting the police shooting of Jamar Clark, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Four men, Allen Lawrence Scarsella, 23, Joseph Martin Bakman, 27, Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 21, and Daniel Thomas Macey, 26, were charged in connection with the violence, but were not charged specifically with hate crimes.
7. Michelle Obama slammed for “Black Girls Rock” appearance
Somehow, people found a way to throw shade at the FLOTUS when she attended and participated in BET’s “Black Girls Rock” celebration in late March. When she declared the slogan at the event, held in New Jersey, part of the Twitterverse responded with anger and criticism, accusing her of racism and of forgetting other ethnicities. Some even curated a #WhiteGirlsRock hashtag. But others shot back on social media, noting how White images continued to dominate media and how cultural Eurocentrism created a need for the slogan in the first place.
6. Super Bowl XLIX interception haunts Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
All they had to do was hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch, and the Seattle Seahawks would have been NFL champions. Instead quarterback Russell Wilson passed the ball, which was intercepted by New England, costing them the game. The focus was on Seattle coach Pete Carroll, whose decision may go down in history as one of the worst sports blunders of all time. But did we really listen to Wilson’s side of the story? “The most important thing for a quarterback, and a leader in general, is accountability,” he told ESPN. “So what happened in Super Bowl XLIX, I take full responsibility for it.” For those looking for Wilson to redeem himself in Super Bowl 50, they could be waiting a little while. By New Year’s Eve, the team was trailing behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West and hoping for a spark of luck in the playoffs.
5. Mississippi couple planned to join ISIS
The young couple’s plan for a honeymoon was normal, but what it actually turned out to be perplexed everyone. Jaelyn Deshaun Young and Muhamad Oda Dakhalla were accused in August of attempting to join ISIS, according to federal authorities, who charged and arrested the pair. But Young and Dakhalla’s families were completely shocked to learn they had anything to do with the terror group at all. The two had planned to escape to Turkey to marry and eventually make their way to Syria to join up with the extremists. But a letter Young wrote to her family was intercepted before they could get out of the country.
4. Kidnapped Nigerian girls forced to fight for Boko Haram
In the latest of many ugly turns in the fate of the nearly 2,000 women and girls abducted by Boko Haram, recent reports have surfaced that some have been forced to join the group and participate in its terrorist activities. More than 200 Chibok girls are still missing after being kidnapped from a school in Northern Nigeria in 2014. Three women who were able to flee the camps told the BBC that others being held were brainwashed, repeatedly raped and even forced to marry Boko Haram members. At least 5,500 civilians have been killed by the extremist group since 2014.
3. Black Lives Matter throws support behind police shooting victim, Zachary Hammond
The Black Lives Matter movement is serious about the message that police violence is epidemic in America. So race didn’t factor in when they took up the cause of Zachary Hammond, an unarmed, White 19-year-old South Carolina man, who was shot to death by an officer over a small amount of marijuana. #BLM publicly cried out for justice for Hammond, just as they did for so many other cases where Blacks were killed by cops. And just like so many others, Tthe officer in Hammond’s case was never charged. While his family has vowed to continue to fight for justice, #BLM has included Hammond’s name in the long list of victims of excessive police brutality.
2. Nicki Minaj performs in Angola despite criticism
Angola has been near the top of several human rights groups lists for the country’s history of abusive regimes. Activists have cited incidents ranging from people being arrested for reading books in protests to a massacre of hundreds by ruler Jose Dos Santos. But rapper Nicki Minaj, herself known to be outspoken on racial issues, was criticized and called a hypocrite for performing at a concert in the nation’s capital, Luanda for Unitel, a telecommunications company run by the dictatorship. Minaj has tweeted that her detractors on the issue “shall be condemned.” Others have said the West should not criticize her without cleaning its own house first. Despite consistent criticism, Minaj performed the show on Dec. 19.
1. Mass gun violence plagues six HBCUs
While gun violence continues to be a cancer upon the nation, it seems to get the most attention when a shooting happens on a predominately white campuses. But within the space of a month, shootings took place at six different Historically Black Colleges, one fatal, without nearly as much national news coverage. Miles College, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Tennessee State University and Winston-Salem State University were all plagued with shootings in October. Students were also shot at Delaware State University in an April incident. Curtis Johnson director of campus safety at Arkansas Baptist College told Inside Higher Ed what he believes to be at the source of the problem including the notion that Black college campuses suffer with higher budget cuts in their campus police departments. “Most HBCUs around the country are located in predominantly urban areas that have unusually high levels of crime,” he said. But even more significant than that are the institutions’ resource and staffing levels. “Those are the two things that impact this the most.”
Madison J. Gray is Managing Editor of Ebony.com. Follow him on Twitter @madisonjgray.