2016 was a doozy of a year.
On the national stage, we watched political surprises and unexpected challenges to democracy; a sobering trend of deadly police shootings of unarmed black men; hackers; the Rio Olympics; and the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
We mourned the loss of some of our most beloved, from Muhammad Ali, Prince, Harper Lee, David Bowie and Carrie Fisher to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Nancy Reagan and Janet Reno.
At home in Raleigh, we saw challenge but they were sprinkled with the beautiful spirit of community that makes us who we are.
As documented in my weekly column, we prayed for parents sending their children off to college and for our neighbors who sent safe, lead-free water to Flint, Michigan. We cheered for young entrepreneurs determined to destroy stereotypes of themselves as young African-American men and crash proverbial glass ceilings. We applauded high school students for their philanthropy, and also a group of neighbors that takes care of each other through a weekly meal share.
Here are some other notable events:
Southeast Raleigh became a peg on the national map of police killings of unarmed black men and women when a Raleigh senior officer shot and killed Akiel Denkins while trying to serve a felony warrant Feb. 29.
Amid the sadness and outrage, a few dedicated grassroots community foot soldiers emerged as leaders, ready to give voice to the voiceless, nurture calm and seek solutions.
They’re still at work.
Educational safety nets
We celebrated the fruit of our future through AMIkids and The WELL, which zero in on student success across the spectrum.
We learned AMIkids Infinity Wake is an alternative school housed at Longview School open to Wake County students who have experienced trauma or other life challenges. It’s a safety net academic and behavioral support for students suspended from school for 10 or more days.
In its 20th year, the Wade Edwards Learning Lab, or The WELL, named for the son of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards and the late Elizabeth Edwards, is a haven where high school students navigate academics, community service and tap into post-secondary options as the state works to boost high school graduation rates.
With a national spotlight already shining from our state’s controversial House Bill 2, commonly called the “bathroom bill,” protests erupted in December during a special session of the General Assembly as the GOP majority pushed to limit the powers of incoming Gov. Roy Cooper.
Shaw University alum Lionel Morgan’s senior class project caught the attention of the city of Raleigh after reading about his solution to disputes over noise levels in downtown Raleigh.
The Franklinton native who earned a degree in computer science first presented his City Noise project during the 5th Annual Shaw University Student Research Symposium amid wrangling over noise between business owners and downtown dwellers.
Morgan’s City Noise combined science and technology to provide a missing link: actual data, using off-the-shelf technology and a wireless sensor network to measure noise.
Morgan is waiting to hear back from city officials about plans to develop a prototype.