2020 was no doubt an absolutely abhorrent dumpster fire mainly due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that’s claimed millions of lives worldwide. Still, we all at least took some solace in moments of joy especially when it concerned Black women and Black girls.
Even a deadly virus can’t stamp out #BlackGirlMagic that included award winners, changemakers, and joy spreaders who made us smile in moments when we so badly needed it. With that, in no particular order, here’s our 2020 Best #BlackGirlMagic moments list.
Our list kicks off with, of course, Madam Vice President Kamala Harris.
Kamala Harris made history when she became the first female, first Black, and first South Asian Vice President-Elect. After winning the White House, hearts sang when Kamala walked out to Mary J. Blige’s “Work That” in a white pantsuit which was a nod to the Women’s Suffrage movement, a collective fight that led to the passage of the 19th Amendment. Vice President Harris’ win was strongly felt by members of the first Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., of which she’s a member, and by Historically Black College graduates, especially those of Howard University, her alma mater.
During Madam Vice President’s victory speech, she gave a shoutout to her late mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris “who maybe didn’t imagine this moment” but “believed so deeply in America where a moment like this is possible.” She also gave a shoutout to all women, but especially Black women for being the “backbone of our democracy.”
“So, I’m thinking about her and about the generations of women — Black Women. Asian, White, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight. Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.
All the women who worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century: 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard.”
Hit the flip for more of the best #BlackGirlMagic moments of 2020.
Stacey Abrams Brings It Home For Biden
Stacey Abrams, we’ll forever speak your name. We can’t talk about the 2020 Presidential Election without giving flowers to Stacey Abrams. After losing the 2018 Georgia Gubernatorial race, Stacey mobilized and took action. She created a bold voter enfranchisement strategy in Georgia that pushed the state blue for the first time since 1992. Her grassroots organization Fair Fight Action is responsible for registering more than 800,000 crucial new voters and sealed up Biden’s win in the Peach State.
With Stacey’s help, Georgia had the highest share of Black voters within its electorate, 38%. And from 2000 to 2018, the share of Black eligible voters in Georgia increased by 5%— the largest increase of any battleground state.
“I’m from a place and a region and I personally inhabit a race and a gender that will not receive due consideration if we do not put ourselves forward,” Stacey previously told Politico. “When I was pushing for Georgia to be considered as a [swing] state, I could not assume that people would look at the numbers and see us and know we were viable.”
She also had this to say about previously being on the shortlist to be Biden’s running mate.
“As a black woman, especially one from the South, I could not presume that I would get the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “Playing coy might have sent the wrong message. “We’re not presumed to be the natural inheritors and the natural occupants of these offices. And if I were to diminish my capacity or to declaim the possibility — I’m not doing it just for myself, I’m doing it for every other woman of color, every other young black woman who has never seen this as a possibility.”
We’re still waiting to hear if (and when) Stacey will take her place in the Biden-Harris administration. There are also rumblings that she’ll run for Georgia governor again in 2022.
We’ll be watching, Queen.
Actress Javicia Leslie Becomes TV’s First Black Batwoman
Actress Javicia Leslie had a major #BlackGirlMagic moment when she became the first black woman to portray Batwoman on TV. Leslie’s casting came after actress Ruby Rose vacated the role in May 2020 after just one season. Ruby Rose graciously sent the stunning and talented actress/ Hampton University graduate well wishes on her historic new beginnings.
“OMG!! This is amazing!! I am so glad Batwoman will be played by an amazing Black woman. I want to congratulate Javicia Leslie on taking over the bat cape. You are walking into an amazing cast and crew. I can’t wait to watch season 2 you are going to be amazing!!”
As for Javicia Leslie herself, she made sure to mention that she’s not only representing Black women and #BlackGirlMagic by becoming Batwoman but the LGBTQ+ community.
“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Leslie.
#BlackGirlMagic makes superheroes and we’re proud to see this one shine.
Texas Teen Rapper Lay Lay Inks An Overall Deal With Nickelodeon
Back in June while the world was burning with rising COVID-19 cases, some positivity commenced concerning a talented teen rapper and a major network.
Houston rapper Alaya “Lay Lay” High inked an overall deal with Nickelodeon. When we first posted about Lay Lay the #BlackGirlMagic maker was just 11-years-old and had become the youngest female rapper to sign a recording deal via her own Fresh Rebel Muzik/Empire imprint.
Deadline reported the news that Lay Lay was on her way to Nickelodeon for exclusive content and merch.
“Nickelodeon will work with Lay Lay to develop original multiplatform programming, music initiatives, and build a cross-category consumer products business. The network’s strategy for Lay Lay includes developing content for all Nickelodeon platforms, supporting her music career and an exclusive line of consumer products with merchandising agreements spanning categories such as fashion, accessories, publishing, and more.”
Lay Lay is closing out 2020 by selling lip gloss and onesies and providing hours of entertainment to her over 1 million followers.
Congrats again, Lay Lay!
Cori Bush becomes Missouri’s first Black congresswoman
Black girls made BIG magic this year when it came to politics. Another example of that was when Cori Bush made history in Missouri after becoming the First Black Congresswoman in the state. The nurse and activist who first made waves in Ferguson in the wake of Mike Brown’s death won BIG with a whopping 84 percent, or more than 80,000 votes, in the state’s 1st Congressional District.
Cori dedicated her win to Black women, single moms, and nurses.
“As the first Black woman and also the first nurse and single mother to have the honor to represent Missouri in the United States Congress, let me say this,” Bush said during her victory speech. “To the Black women, the Black girls, the nurses, the essential workers, the single mothers: This is our moment.”
“This is definitely a night to remember, this has been a historic day from the beginning to the end.”
These days Cori’s continuing to fight and aligning herself with the winning team a.k.a The Squad consisting of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Go get ’em, Cori! Congrats again!
Superwoman Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett Becomes Lead Scientist For COVID-19 Vaccine
Back in April, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett made headlines when it was announced that she was leading the charge in the battle against COVID-19. The viral immunologist and research fellow at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, is the lead scientist who enlisted a team to create a coronavirus vaccine. The changemaker who earned her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil made her rounds on news networks sharing the status of the forthcoming vaccine, one she’d been working on since January.
She’s since been praised for her stellar work by Dr. Fauci.
These days Dr. Corbett is trying to help soothe the worries of vaccine-hesitant people, vaccine-hesitant Black people in particular who have a right to be wary considering medical injustices done against them. According to Corbett, there’s work to be done “brick-by-brick.”
“I wake up to oftentimes on social media, to people who are vaccine-hesitant with lots of questions and concerns, and I think that what I would say to people who are vaccine-hesitant is that you’ve earned the right to ask the questions that you have around these vaccines and this vaccine development process,” Dr. Corbett told CNN”s Sanjay Gupta.“And this overarching mistrust of the medical institution in general is something that is being highlighted now because of the dire circumstances of which we’re in. But it is not news to me, because I’m Black and I have a Black family and I am well-read on the history of injustice when it comes to medicine in the Black community. And so, one of the things that I’ve had to step out of this and say that we’re not going to be able to prove trustworthiness in this instance quickly, and that is OK. But what we do need to do is decide that we’re going to take steps and, even beyond this pandemic, move in a direction to be more trustworthy.
And the reason why I say “we” and the reason why I say “trustworthy,” instead of using the terminology “they” or “distrust,” is because the first step is that scientists and physicians and vaccine developers and et cetera, is to understand that the onus of this problem is not on them and their distrust; it is on us and our level of trustworthiness. And so, trust, especially when it has been stripped from people, has to be rebuilt in a brick-by-brick fashion.”
Megan Thee Stallion Makes Time’s List Of 100 Most Influential People
Megan Thee Stallion had a stellar year despite unbelievable hardship and constant criticism from detractors who belittled her, called her a “liar” and taunted her after that July 12 incident. In spite of that, she had a career-high when she made Time’s 100 Most Influential People list alongside Gabby & D Wade, Dr. Fauci, Tyler Perry, and Kamala Harris.
Obviously elated about the honor, Meg shared her cover, one of only 8 released by TIME, on Instagram.
“STILL I RISE 🖤 YOUNG BLACK WOMAN FROM HOUSTON TEXAS ON THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE AS ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD,” Meg captioned the cover pic shot by Dana Scruggs.
For Hot Girl Meg’s Time 100 story she was profiled by Taraji P. Henson who lauded the rapper’s strength despite potentially debilitating circumstances including being shot and losing her mother, father, and grandmother.
“I don’t like to put the stigma of the word strong on Black women because I think it dehumanizes us, but she has strength—strength through vulnerability,” wrote Taraji about Meg.” She’s lost much of her family—her mother, her father, her grandmother—yet she is the epitome of tenacity, of pulling herself up by her bootstraps. She was shot this summer, and still people tried to tear her down. But she’s out here still loving and being sweet.”
— TIME (@TIME) September 23, 2020
Zendaya Wins An EMMY, Becomes The Youngest Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
24-year-old Zendaya made history at the 2020 EMMY Awards when she won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series officially making her the youngest woman to win the category. The “Euphoria” actress beat out Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, Jodie Comer, Laura Linney, and Sandra Oh, for the honor.
She spoke to ESSENCE about her historic win.
ON WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH HER MIND RIGHT BEFORE HER HISTORIC EMMY WINNING:
“There’s a video of me that a family friend took while I was waiting, and you can see my leg shaking. In my head I was like, ‘Dude, just chill out. What will be, will be.’ I remember taking a deep breath, and then hearing my name, and then my family screamed. I was worried that if they kept screaming for too long, I wouldn’t have any time to actually say anything—but I didn’t want to stop them, because they were having a great time. It was a very special night. I’ll definitely remember that one forever…”
ON RECEIVING SUPPORT FROM OTHER BLACK WOMEN AFTER HER EMMY WIN:
“I’m honored to have that support, especially from my fellow young Black creatives. Through this Emmy’s period, especially, I felt a strong sense of support within our community, which I’m really grateful for. I think what’s slowly starting to happen is, artists like Issa Rae and Lena Waithe have created opportunities that have resulted in more of us being in these rooms. That’s such a special feeling, and I think it’s definitely changing the idea that there can only be “one at a time,” which is false. I love to see that genuine love and respect for each other’s work. I hope that we continue to expand that in all kinds of beautiful ways, because I think we’re on a really good path…”
We see you, Zendaya!