The 10 Most Empowering Moments of 2011

Time Magazine just released their top pick for Person of the Year – The Protester. OK...but along with that, came their list of People Who Mattered in 2011 – among them Casey Anthony and Warren Buffet...Mmmm. Here's what I say:

1. Occupy Wall Street

Arguably, Occupy Wall Street has been one of the year's most empowering acts. A “people-powered” movement that was inspired by foreign nations' intolerance for their corrupt governments, Occupy Wall Street was America's answer to corporate greed and corruption and to Wall Street's role in the collapse of the U.S.' economy. Pockets of protesters have been occupying cities across America and overseas and though weeks have passed, with some excitement waining and protesters being subjected to backlashes such as “Occupy A Desk,” the protesters remain committed to the cause and are still going strong.

2. Sandusky's Victims

Thanks to Mom 1 and Victim 1 for their unwavering persistence in reporting to her son’s then, high school principal and head football coach the inappropriate behavior between her son and prominent assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, that opened the door to a slew of allegations of sexual molestation - to date over 50, creating a chain of awareness and creating a platform for other victims to come forth. Bravo to all the victims, the families and the public who were more concerned about fighting for the safety and welfare of a child than the concern at maintaining the reputation of some...football coach.

3. John Carlos' Black Power Salute

1968 in Mexico City, track and field star, John Carlos received a bronze Olympic metal, but what outweighed this moment was his salute while receiving it. John Carlos along with Tommie Smith took the podium bare foot and as the National Anthem played, they bowed their heads and thrust their black-gloved fists into the air. This gesture sparked outrage, not only in the sports community but around the world. Their Black power salute cost them suspension from their “Olympic community,” but not their dignity. To John Carlos, winning a metal in Mexico City for America, did not trump what they were battling at home: poverty and injustice. They had to return to the states to not be included nor able to enjoy the perks of being Olympic medalists. "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Movement That Changed the World," co-authored by sports writer Dave Zirin, was released this year.

4. TJ Holmes Leaves CNN

CNN weekend anchor, TJ Holmes recently announced his departure from the station to work with BET, who swooped in to save the day once they heard TJ was leaving and offered him a “multi-platform” deal. TJ comes with a host of experience, knowledge and charisma. I'm always an advocate of one seeking out better opportunities, going to where they're appreciated and pursuing what they're really worth, especially given the fact that some say, TJ was a “wasted talent” at CNN. Hopefully, TJ will find a better home at BET and my message to them: “BET, you better do him right!”

5. Gaddafi's Death

Gaddafi, Libyan dictator, although a peculiar one, was a dictator in every sense of the word, coming into power through a military coup – forcing himself into leadership, tearing down the Libyan Constitution and replacing it with his own set of rules. Rebels tired of Gaddafi's rule, formed the intention of taking him out. And they did, to his death. His death, though not empowering, was what it represented: the marking to the end of his 42 year long reign that has now opened the door to a “new economy, new education, new health system – [and] one future.”

6. Gabrielle Giffords' Comeback

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in a harrowing move, returned to the House floor after being shot in the head, to cast her vote in favor of the debt ceiling deal. What was so empowering about this was, this was Giffords first appearance after being shot and received a standing ovation at her unexpected return. It was an important time for the world's economy, but more remarkable was her return, that should have been punctuated with fear and terror but was instead marked with courage and heroism. A valiant message to her assaulter.

7. MLK Memorial Dedication

Nearly 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King's famous march and “I Have a Dream” speech on Washington, he received his loooong overdue commemoration as the final testament to his vision and dream for equal rights and social equality in the form of a 30 foot statue. This massive rock monument is rooted in between the Lincoln Memorial and Thomas Jefferson as a bold display that evokes an overwhelming feeling of power – mirroring perfectly the kind of life he stood for.

8. 20 Year Anniversary of Magic Johnson's HIV Announcement

20 years ago, Magic Johnson made the announcement of his contracting HIV – the virus that causes AIDS, and 20 years later has moved away from his platform as all-star basketball player to becoming the face of HIV/AIDS. Formerly known as the “gay disease,” this disease has now disproportionately affected the brown and black communities of which Johnson has become the spokesperson. Magic has long since reconciled his new role and has cited his acceptance at how God wanted to use him.

 

9. Oprah Winfrey Launches OWN

Oprah Winfrey, America's “Queen of Branded Personalities” launched January 1, 2011, OWN - the Oprah Winfrey Network – that represents the coronation to her mega-million...or is it billion dollar media empire that includes books, movies and magazines. “Dream it. Do it.” is Oprah's recitation of her brand and her prompting to others that ownership is important. But what's unclear is, if it's for us or for them.

10. The Roots on Michelle Bachmann

The Roots, house band on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” - Questlove queues Fishbone's song, “Lyin' A$$ B&*^#” played to the entrance of Michelle Bachmann during a recent interview. This act generated a wave of reactions - mostly of inappropriateness, but despite being Jimmy Fallon's house band, The Roots retained their ability to not only be Jimmy Fallon's house band and “march to the beat of the own drum,” pun intended, and maintain their own opinions of this GOP hopeful and not simply mirror everyone else's. This act was almost empowering, but the Roots were “severely reprimanded” for their impromptu performance and have to now clear their musical selections with the MAN...agement. And for this reason, drops them to number ten.

What did you see as some of the most empowering moments of 2011?

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