Year in Review 2019
If you’re anything like us, you’re probably experiencing a combination of seasonal stress and year-end fatigue right about now. It makes sense, too, because 2019 has been a long, hard year—so hard, in fact, some of you might not even want to rehash it. Luckily for you, we went ahead and did the homework for recapping the past 12 months so you don’t have to.
From fun stuff, like chicken sandwiches, to not-so-fun stuff, like the ongoing impeachment proceedings, here’s a look back at the year in headlines.
1. IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY
Hardly anyone generated headlines and started more Twitter feuds this past year than U.S. President Donald Trump. One specific headline and collective twitter debate, however, stood out from the rest—Impeachment. Congress opened a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump in September, making him the fourth U.S. president to find himself in that predicament. Despite his consistent denial, the inquiry started because of a phone call Trump had with then-newly elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Public hearings began in November, making the end of 2019 even more divisive than it started.
2. DEMS DEBATE
What started off as insanely crowded field has since dwindled down to an only somewhat crowded field, as the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee moves into the new year. Of the 12 officially sanctioned DNC debates, half have already happened, and each made headlines for different reasons. But the top three frontrunners have remained pretty consistent—Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
3. JEFFREY EPSTEIN
Memes overlapped with real-life when financier Jeffrey Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide. Epstein was arrested on charges of sex trafficking in July, was denied bail ahead of his trial and died in jail in August. Although it was officially ruled a suicide by the New York City medical examiner, not everyone is on board. “Epstein didn’t kill himself,” said every meme ever. The meme message isn’t just an empty conspiracy theory. Two prison guards face charges related to his death, fueling a national conversation about prison protocols and staffing.
4. FIRST ALL-FEMALE SPACEWALK
NASA’s 221st spacewalk in support of space station assembly wouldn’t seem like a big deal, unless it was the first time for two women to do it. U.S. astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir stepped outside the International Space Station in October for the first all-female spacewalk. During the seven-hour, 17-minute event, the pair of astronauts also shared a casual phone conversation with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence—the first time a sitting president has spoken directly with astronauts outside of a spacecraft in space since the 1969 moon landing.
5. U.S. WOMEN’S SOCCER
Megan Rapinoe’s arms-spread address to the crowd became instantly iconic after the U.S. Women’s soccer team won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup with a 2-0 victory against the Netherlands. Star players such as Rapinoe and Alex Morgan stole the hearts of viewers during the competition, and TIME Magazine even named the team collectively its Athlete of the Year. The athletes’ skill and gumption on the field was also a strikingly compelling argument for equal pay for professional female athletes … and, well, all women.
6. EL PASO SHOOTING
In August, a mass shooting took place at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people and injuring 24, making it the deadliest—though certainly not the only—mass shooting in 2019. The shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, allegedly aimed to kill people of Mexican descent. Because of this, the FBI is approaching its proceedings as an act of terrorism.
7. “STORM AREA 51”
You know what they say—if you make a Facebook event, they will come … or not. While millions RSVP’d to the “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” public Facebook event, only a small crowd actually showed up at the top-secret Air Force facility suspected to host aliens. No one raided. No aliens were seen. But a few unsuccessful music festivals were attempted in the wake of this meme-friendly “raid.”
8. TIGER WOODS
After fighting knee and back injuries, Tiger Woods revived his golf career with the comeback to end all comebacks. The underdog won first place at the Masters Tournament in April, marking his first major title in 11 years.
9. BOEING 737 MAX GROUNDING
In March, aviation authorities around the world grounded the Boeing 737 MAX passenger airliner for the longest ever grounding of a U.S. airliner—and with good reason. Two new airplanes crashed within five months, killing a total of 346 people. The tragedies cost Boeing billions of dollars in revenue, compensations to airlines and lawsuits from victims’ families. In November, the Federal Aviation Administration revoked Boeing’s authority to issue airworthiness certificates for any individual MAX airplanes. Last week, the company said it will temporarily halt production of the planes in January 2020.
10. ABORTION BANS
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Utah. No, those are aren’t our predictions for 2020 swing states. Those are the states that have passed some kind of bill limiting access to abortion this past year. Currently, none of these new gestational bans—which prohibit abortions past a certain point in pregnancy—have gone into effect, and most are currently tied in the courts. So obviously, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon—not that it ever really has.
1. “HOW DARE YOU?”
Sixteen-year-old environmental activist from Sweden Greta Thunberg went viral internationally after she gave global leaders a piece of her mind at the U.N. Climate Change Summit in September. “How dare you?” she exclaimed between other remarks full of disdain toward politicians who prioritize economy over the environment. Thunberg garnered much criticism from her passionate verbiage but continues to study climate change, meet with politicians and fight for change. Thunberg, who gave up school to devote her time to activism, even sailed for more than two weeks on a zero-emission boat to attend the U.N. Climate Action Summit in August in New York City.
2. HONG KONG PROTESTS
When the Hong Kong government introduced the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill, the people of Hong Kong fought back with protests starting in June, known as the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement or the water revolution. The bill would have allowed some criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. The activists want more autonomy from China and demand the right to vote, an investigation into police brutality and amnesty for protestors. Unfortunately, tensions have heightened, causing violence between activists and police officers.
3. NOTRE DAME FIRE
Amid renovations in April, the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral went up in flames, causing significant damage to the architectural landmark. People worldwide were distraught over the fire because the medieval cathedral is not only a remarkable example of French gothic architecture but also a patriotic symbol of the city of Paris and France as a whole. Committed to restoring the building’s majesty, the French Parliament passed a law in July requiring it be rebuilt to the same specifications as before the fire.
4. BIRTH OF PRINCE ARCHIE
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, welcomed their little prince, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, into the world in May. He is seventh in line of succession to the British throne.
5. DEATH OF ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI
Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the elusive, yet influential, leader of one of the most violent terrorist organizations, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), died Oct. 26 in Syria during a U.S. Special Operations raid. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was named his replacement.
6. THERESA MAY RESIGNS
After almost three years serving as the second-ever female U.K. prime minister, Theresa May formally quit because of repeatedly failing Brexit negotiations. The Brexit agreement for the U.K. to withdrawal from the European Union was denied by Parliament three times. May was succeeded by Boris Johnson but still acts as a backbencher in the House of Commons.
7. SRI LANKA EASTER BOMBINGS
Easter Sunday turned into tragedy this year when a series of bomb blasts at churches, hotels and a housing complex in and around Colombo, Sri Lanka, killed more than 250 people and injured many others. The Islamic State militant outfit claimed responsibility for the attacks in April.
8. LEGALIZED SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in May. Same-sex marriage also became legal in Austria at the first of the year.
9. BREXIT AIN’T OVER YET
The European Union has agreed to extend the Brexit deadline until Jan. 31, 2020, which means Brexit is going to continue to make headlines in the new year.
10. RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA
Whether the story is about their four-year Olympic ban, their geopolitical tension with the Ukraine or the continued investigations into their role in U.S. elections, Russia has proved to be newsworthy on every level in 2019.
1. NAS SHOOTING
On Dec. 6 of this year, an attack at NAS Pensacola left four people dead, including the shooter, who was a pilot from Saudi Arabia enrolled in a training program on the base. In addition to the fatalities, eight others were wounded responding to the attack, including members of local law enforcement, and are currently recovering.
2. RIP TYMAR CRAWFORD
In July of this year, Tymar Crawford was shot and killed by Pensacola Police Department Detective Daniel Siemen following a traffic stop. Although Siemen was fired by the PPD following an internal investigation—for not following the department’s use-of-deadly-force policy—a grand jury did not find that there was cause to prosecute the officer criminally. In the wake of the shooting, and as per the grand jury recommendations, city officials have committed to additional training for local police officers in an effort to avoid such events in the future.
3. THE “MILKSHAKING” OF MATT GAETZ
During a June town hall event at an East Hill restaurant, local congressman and national Trump darling Rep. Matt Gaetz had a drink thrown on him by a protestor. The otherwise unremarkable event was notable because it marked the first “milkshaking” of a political candidate in the U.S. The protest tactic had been deployed for some time in the U.K. The drink thrown at Gaetz was not actually a milkshake, however, but rather a slushie from Taco Bell. Amanda Kondrat’yev, who threw the drink at Gaetz, ended up serving 15 days in jail on assault charges.
4. REVISIONING DOWNTOWN
Pensacola entertained two shoot-for-the-moon planning projects in 2019. Combined, they could be the blueprint for the future of downtown. One plan was an effort of CivicCon and involved having New York urban design firm SCAPE draw up plans to create a more walkable and connected waterfront downtown. The other plan was dreamed up by new urban design guru Jeff Speck and the DPZ firm and reimagined the area encompassing Maritime Park and the empty former ECUA property as a mixed-use, residential-retail utopia. Both plans were funded by developer Quint Studer, who owns the 19-acre ECUA property. The Pensacola City Council has already financed $17 million to put towards the SCAPE plan.
5. ESCAMBIA MELTDOWN
It was a rough year for Escambia County government. In addition to a still on-going investigation into the county’s Emergency Medical Services division by the state, the county also saw a mass exodus of staffers. Among those jumping ship were interim County Administrator Amy Lovoy, as well as Assistant County Administrator Matt Coughlin—both Lovoy and Coughlin have taken positions with the city of Pensacola)—and a number department heads, including Public Safety Director Mike Weaver and EMS Chief Rusty Nail. By summer, Escambia County commissioners brought in Janice Gilley as administrator, with instructions and expectations to get Escambia’s house in better order.
6. LANDING PROJECT TITAN
Years in the making, the city of Pensacola finally landed Project Titan in February of 2019. The $210 million project cobbles funds from a variety of sources—public, private and oil spill money via Triumph Gulf Coast—to bring ST Engineering to town in the hopes of igniting an aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) hub, as well as the associated training programs for such an industry. City officials are still figuring out where some of the funds are coming from, but ST closed out the year heralding industry projections that forecast an increasing need for the four-hangar MRO facility that will eventually sprawl across Pensacola International Airport.
7.HILL’S HILL TO DIE ON
State legislator Rep. Mike Hill enjoys getting media attention for his far-right legislative efforts and statements, such as attempts to pass his so-called heartbeat abortion bill, which would essentially outlaw abortion in the state. But in 2019, the legislator stepped over a line when he entertained a brief discussion regarding instituting the death penalty for gay men during a local speaking engagement in May. Initially falling back on a fake-news defense, Hill eventually attempted to clean up his mess following a bipartisan outcry and calls for an apology by his colleagues around the state.
8. HAPPY TO HAVE THE BLUES
In January, the Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood received some long-due recognition for its significance in the story of blues music when the Mississippi Blues Commission made the neighborhood part of the Mississippi Blues Trail and installed a marker. Belmont-DeVilliers was part of what was known in pre-segregation days as the Chitlin’ Circuit and hosted everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald to James Brown, Ray Charles and B.B. King.
9. BAPTIST HOSPITAL RELOCATION
This summer, Baptist Hospital announced plans to relocate its operations to a campus situated near I-110 and Davis Highway by 2023. Perhaps more notable than the hospital’s new location is the change that will inevitably face the area surrounding Baptist’s current home near downtown Pensacola. In the absence of the hospital, the sprawling campus will represent an opportunity to consider what developments will best suit the area.
10. LESSONS LEARNED ON THE SOCCER FIELD
Upon entering office, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson encountered a landmine—the previous administration had left him to make the case for a land-and-services deal with the YMCA in an effort to develop a complex on Langley Avenue for the city’s growing youth soccer program. The at times dramatic debate—eventually resulting in a new home for the Y on Summit Boulevard as well as the city’s future soccer complex on Langley—provided early insight into the incoming mayor’s style and strategy.
—Pop Culture Headlines—
1. TAYLOR SWIFT—“LOVER” AND FIGHTER
As if releasing the biggest album of the year and setting multiple sales and streaming records weren’t enough, Taylor Swift proved that she can multitask with the best of them in 2019. During the midst of all the hype and promotion for her latest album, “Lover,” Swift took to social media to explain her ongoing battle to get her master recordings back. While she owns the original recordings of the new record, Swift is fighting against label head Scooter Braun for the masters of her earlier music with Big Machine Records.
2. ALL HAIL LIZZO
Going into 2019, we all knew we needed a hero—someone to unite us, to make us happy, maybe even dance, and to remind us to actually like ourselves again. Thankfully, we got that hero in the form of Lizzo. Sure, she’s been making music for years, but 2019 was her breakout year, and we’re so happy the world is finally feeling “Good As Hell.” It’s about damn time, y’all.
3. JO BROS RIDE AGAIN
After six grueling years for fans, the Jonas Brothers announced their reunion in April, following it up with the catchy hit single “Sucker for You” in March. Arguably the best part though was the music video, which didn’t just feature Nick, Joe and Kevin, but also their wives, Priyanka Chopra, Sophie Turner and Danielle Jonas. To be honest, we’re a sucker for all of them. They even took the reunion on the road with their “Happiness Begins” tour, which kicked off in August.
4. KANYE DOES GOSPEL
Every album Kanye West drops is a departure from the one prior—but especially his latest. West released his ninth studio album, “Jesus is King,” on Oct. 25, and the response was equal parts praise—and worship—and pitchforks. While the gospel album was evangelical, it didn’t resonate with all Christians—who, at times, felt criticized by the lyrics and accused West of hypocrisy. “Closed on Sunday” features some of the more light-hearted lyrics, such as “Closed on Sunday, you’re my Chick-fil-A.” Speaking of Chick-fil-A…
5. POPEYES CHICKEN SANDWICH
Popeyes released a new menu item in August that backed up traffic with the long lines at drive-thrus everywhere—the chicken sandwich. The internet took notice and immediately pegged it against Chick-fil-A’s iconic chicken sandwich, documenting the comparison—as we do now—in memes. Popeyes’ mouthwatering sandwich sold out quickly, and now people are counting the seconds for its return to the fast food joint’s menu.
6. DUCT TAPE BANANA
A new piece of artwork at Art Basel made people question just how subjective art really is. Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian”—composed of a real banana duct-taped against the wall—might not have been so controversial if it weren’t for its six-figure price tag. And, yes, people purchased it, sort of. They bought an art certificate, because the banana will, in fact, decompose. Some people don’t understand the allure of a piece their kindergartener could assemble, but others interpret it as having a deeper message. In another questionable take on art, performance artist David Datuna ate the banana. Don’t worry, they replaced it.
7. JUSSIE SMOLLETT
Celebrities rallied behind “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in January after he told police two white men attacked him in Chicago after spouting off racial and homophobic slurs, poured an unknown chemical substance on him and tied a rope around his neck. Things got awkward, though, when it came out that Smollett allegedly paid two Nigerian men, and former “Empire” extras, to stage the attack. Smollett was indicted for disorderly conduct in February. In March, all charges were dropped in return for Smollett performing community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond, but the FBI announced it will investigate why exactly the charges were dropped so suddenly.
Many radio stations felt compelled to silence R. Kelly and stop playing his music after seeing Lifetime’s docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” which revealed sexual abuse allegations against the singer. The film featured interviews from survivors detailing R. Kelly’s physical, mental and sexual abuse. Kelly’s record label, Sony Music’s RCA, dropped him after it aired. In February, Kelly was formally charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The second season of the docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” will premiere Jan. 2, 2020.
9. OPERATION VARSITY BLUES
Several high-profile celebrities were involved in the college admissions scandal, aka Operation Varsity Blues, an investigation that revealed many parents were influencing admissions decisions via bribery and more at top-tier universities. Leading the headlines were “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli and “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman.
10. J-LO HUSTLED
If anyone won 2019, it was J-Lo. While the actress, singer and dancer has never been exactly forgotten, this year, she had a major resurgence. First, the world swooned when she got engaged to another two-syllable nicknamed celebrity, A-Rod (aka Alex Rodriguez). Then, she co-produced and starred in the movie “Hustlers,” which is loosely based on a true story about a group of strippers who take illegal measures to make extra money. Her intense routines for the film made us wonder if it’s possible to age backward. Lopez won Instagram shortly after when she posted a video of herself strutting down the runway at Milan fashion week in a recreation of the green, palm-print Versace dress she wore to the Grammys 20 years ago.