The Inauguration of President Barack Obama stands out as the top event of 2013. Despite voter ID laws to disenfranchise minority voters, President Obama was sworn into his second term on January 20, 2013 (Official date). It seems that the inauguration was light years ago with everything that has happened since January, 2013. From government shutdowns to the Affordable Health Care web site fiasco, this has hardly been a banner year for President Obama. The second term of President Obama is off to a shaky start in its first year. Yet, I still shudder at the thought of a Mitt Romney presidency and its effect on the “47%” of Americans that he despised.
The Affordable Care Act, despite its lackluster performance thus far, still remains the most major piece of legislation in the Obama administration. While it is not the public option that I and many others had hoped for, it still affords many persons health insurance coverage who would not be able to qualify or obtain health insurance due to either pre-existing illnesses or high cost of insurance. It is not a perfect piece of legislation. There are many issues from relying on young adults to keep the cost low to many previously privately insured persons having to lose their insurance. In the long run, it will still save more lives than without it.
Mary Bara made history by becoming the first woman CEO of General Motors and the first woman to lead an American car manufacturer. She stands with a few select women who have become CEO’s of major corporations. The glass ceiling is still tough for women to reach. Bara joins 23 women who are currently heading Fortune 500 companies
The automobile capital of the U. S., Detroit, filed for bankruptcy. Even the turning around of the automotive industry could not save the city of Detroit. Detroit had been in decline for many years. Sadly, it was difficult to see this major urban city file for bankruptcy. With many of its residents having fled to the suburbs and few coming into the city, there just was not enough of a tax base to offset the city’s losses. That plus ineffective leadership over the years helped to spiral the city into further decline. The city could not pay its bills or effectively run the city. It was recently discovered that rape kits had not been tested for years due to the inability of the city to afford to test them. A sad state of affairs for this once prosperous city and home to Motown and the auto industry.
August 28 marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for jobs lead by Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a reminder that while we have accomplished much in the area of civil rights, we still have a long way to go. Today African Americans still have the highest unemployment rate in the country. And there’s a new voting rights fight going on fifty years after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was struck down by the Supreme Court which mandated that the Justice Department pre-clear any changes to voting laws in states and towns where there had been a pervasive pattern of racial discrimination in voting. And new GOP enacted voter ID laws are springing up to disenfranchise blacks and Hispanic voters. While Jim Crow is gone, his practices remain in 2013.
The Trayvon Martin killing reminded many African Americans that racial equality in the court system still eludes justice for African Americans. Many African Americans still feel the pain of a not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman. President Obama spoke out against the verdict and to the country on why African Americans view the case through a set of different eyes and through a different lens than many white Americans. And if the case proves anything, it is that race issues are difficult for this country to discuss.
The Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional on June 26, 2013 which means that same sex couples who are legally married in their own states can receive federal benefits such as Social Security, health insurance, retirement savings and other federal benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples.
Edward Snowden made worldwide news by revealing through leaked documents that the NSA is snooping and spying on conversations with our allies and enemies and possibly our citizens under the guise of preventing terrorism. And a recent federal court has said the federal government has gone too far in collecting the cell phone data of users without first obtaining a search warrant. While many persons, particularly minorities, have often suspected the government of intrusive surveillance activities, Edward Snowden put a real face to it.
Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, died on December 5, 2013. Mandela lead South Africa through its period of apartheid, serving 27 years in jail to becoming a symbol of peace and forgiveness. No few words can ever describe the magnitude of the effect of Mandela on the world. President Obama said, “we’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth.”
New York’s Stop and Frisk law was declared to be unconstitutional after hundreds of thousands of blacks and Hispanics were stopped and frisked on a yearly basis for no reason other than for the police to maintain quotas. In almost 90% of the stops, there was no illegal activity. Mayor Elect De Blassio will drop all efforts by the city of New York to fight the ruling upon his swearing in as mayor. New measures will be presumably enacted to prevent future discriminatory tactics by the New York police department.
While neither political or legal, the Baltimore Ravens won the 2013 Super Bowl. As a lover of football and a Baltimore native, the Ravens made the list.