Reflecting on the top photos of the past 12 months is no easy task considering everything that happened this year.
From the nonstop political drama in Washington to a spike in mass shootings to unrestrained police departments raging out of control, the news gushed from the faucet of current events as if there was a water main break.
All of that made it tougher to choose which photos to showcase.
Of course, there are photos that are a given when it comes to most indelible images of the year.
Simone Biles, for instance, who dominated her craft to inimitable proportions — like having a gymnastics move named for her and winning yet another world championship on her way to becoming the most decorated gymnast of all time.
Or R. Kelly and the saga that has been his official fall from grace with 2019 delivering the apparent final nail in his career’s coffin.
And there’s no way we can ignore the fact that President Donald Trump was impeached in a potential game-changer for the American people, with polls showing that more Americans than not want him removed from office.
The number of topics NewsOne covered this year reached the thousands.
To help whittle down the number of photos of the year to a manageable amount, we decided to base the pictures’ criteria on one factor: which news stories were most popular this year among NewsOne’s readers.
We have analytic tools that help tell us which stories are gaining the most traction with readers — how many shares, retweets, page views, comments, etc. that any given story got in 2019.
Based on those levels of interest from the readers, we found the best photos associated with the most popular stories of the year to help inform which images we’d include on the list this year.
So sit back and scroll down to take a trip down memory lane of the past 12 months and reminisce by way of some of the most jarring and startling and overall awesome photos that were taken in 2019 and attached to NewsOne’s coverage.
1. HBCU marching bands lead the 130th Rose ParadeSource:Getty
An Alabama State Marching Hornets tuba player was a member of two HBCU bands marching in the 130th Rose Parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, California. The Florida A&M University Marching 100 was the other one.
Alabama State became the first HBCU to have the distinction of leading the nationally televised and celebrated parade.
2. Women’s MarchSource:Getty
Pictured from left: Yandy Smith, Tamika Mallory and Jamila Davis attend Women’s March 2019 at Freedom Plaza on Jan. 19 in Washington, D.C.
3. Kamala Harris runs for presidentSource:Getty
California Sen. Kamala Harris became the first and only Black woman to run for president in the 2020 race when she declared her candidacy at a campaign launch rally in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland on Jan. 27.
Twenty thousand people turned out to see the Oakland native launch her presidential campaign in front of Oakland City Hall.
4. Nick Sandmann
Who could forget the group of all-white MAGA hat-wearing teenagers from Covington Catholic Hugh School in Kentucky and their visit to the Lincoln Memorial, where they faced off against a Native American elder and appeared to taunt him?
The episode quickly went viral and turned into a classic case of white privilege as the teenager and his powerful family mounted an ultimately unsuccessful legal effort against news outlets that covered the clear-cut case of racism and white supremacy in the nation’s capital.
5. Cory Booker announces his presidential bidSource:Getty
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker declared his candidacy during a press conference in Newark on Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month.
6. Ralph Northam exposed for wearing blackface
Also on the first day of Black History Month, a photo was made public purportedly showing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wearing blackface.
While he denied he was in the photo that appeared on his medical school yearbook page, he did admit to previously wearing blackface during a costume contest where he said he dressed as Michael Jackson.
7. Justin Fairfax is accusedSource:Getty
Nearly overnight after the Northam blackface scandal broke, Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax was accused by a woman of sexually assaulting her nearly 20 years earlier. Another woman would ultimately claim he did the same to her around the same time.
Fairfax has maintained his innocence all year long and was expected to launch his own bid for governor to succeed Northam, with whom he had a reported falling out after the scandals broke nearly simultaneously.
Pictured: Fairfax presides over the Senate at the Virginia State Capitol, Feb. 7 in Richmond.
8. Kristoff St. John diesSource:Getty
Kristoff St. John, who starred in the popular soap opera “Young & the Restless” as Neil Winters, was found dead on Feb. 3. He was just 52 years old.
Pictured: St. John is shown attending the 10th anniversary celebration of ‘The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil’ at the Mirage Hotel & Casino on July 14, 2016 in Las Vegas.
9. Stacey Abrams delivers Democrats response to Trump’s State of the UnionSource:NBC News screenshot
Failed gubernatorial bid be damned in 2018, Stacey Abrams’ bright political light continued to shine in many ways in 2019.
Pictured: Abrams was chosen by Democratic leadership to deliver her party’s response to Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 5.
10. 21 Savage is arrested by immigration policeSource:Getty
21 Savage is shown being booked in this handout photo provided by the Liberty County Sheriffs Office after his arrest on felony charges of Theft by Deception on Feb. 15 in Hinesville, Georgia. The charges stemmed from a 2016 concert booking where 21 Savage was reportedly paid USD 17,000 but never performed.
This is not his mugshot from his Feb. 3 arrest by ICE, which said the rapper whose real name is Shayaabin Abraham-Joseph is actually a United Kingdom citizen who entered the US legally in July 2005 as a minor. He failed to leave this country under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa. Consequently, his presence in the U.S. has been unlawful since his visa expired in July 2006.
He was ultimately released on bond after a week in jail.
11. Jussie Smollett accused of arranging his own beatingSource:Getty
Actor Jussie Smollett is shown leaving Cook County jail after posting bond on Feb. 21 in Chicago for allegedly arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an apparent attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the primetime soap opera, “Empire.”
12. “The Squad” grills Michael Cohen on Capitol HillSource:Getty
This iconic photo was taken as Democratic Congresswomen (from left) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, collectively with Rep. Ilhan Omar known as “The Squad,” grilling Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, while he testified before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27.
Cohen has since begun serving his three-year prison sentence for tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful excessive campaign contributions and lying to Congress as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.
13. Mark Meadows uses Lynn Patton as a human prop on Capitol Hill
During Michael Cohen’s testimony on Feb. 27, Republican North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows pulled out Lynne Patton, who is reportedly Eric Trump‘s former party planner, to implausibly prove Donald Trump cannot be racist.
Patton stood silently behind Meadows, willingly debasing herself even more than she already has as part of the Trump administration. Cohen said to Meadows: “Ask Ms. Patton how many Black people are executives at the Trump Organization? The answer is zero.”
14. R. Kelly Is finally arrestedSource:Getty
R. Kelly poses for a mugshot photo after being arrested March 6 for $161,663 in unpaid child support. It was the start of his official ending after the acclaimed docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly” was televised in January, all but confirming his activity as a child sex predator.
15. Trinity Love Jones goes missingSource:Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office
Trinity Love Jones was identified as the little Black girl whose body was found March 6 in a duffle bag in Hacienda Heights, California. The 9-year-old’s story captivated the nation as her mother was charged with her murder about two weeks later.
Trinity was part of a larger trend of Black children being victims of deadly violence in 2019.
16. Nipsey Hussle diesSource:Getty
Rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed in South Central Los Angeles on March 31. He was just 33 years old.
ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 10: Rapper Nipsey Hussle attends A Craft Syndicate Music Collaboration Unveiling Event at Opera Atlanta on December 10, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.(photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage) color image,photography,celebrities,people,one person,arts culture and entertainment,attending,horizontal,usa,topix,bestof,music,rapper,headshot,crime,cooperation,event,georgia – us state,opera,nipsey hussle,atlanta – georgia
17. Lori Lightfoot elected as Chicago’s mayorSource:Getty
Lori Lightfoot won the Chicago mayoral election on April 2, becoming the first gay and African-American woman to lead the third-largest cty in the country.
Pictured: Lightfoot speaks during the election night party as Chicago voters entrusted a political novice with tackling difficult problems of economic inequality and gun violence. The former federal prosecutor and practicing lawyer who had never before held elected office was elected the midwestern city’s mayor in a lopsided victory.
18. Sharpton meets with Mayor Pete at Sylvia’sSource:Getty
In a political rite of passage, Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg, from South Bend, Indiana, and civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton held a lunch meeting at Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem on April 29.
Buttigieg has struggled to gain traction with Black voters, and Black people in general.
19. Maleah Davis goes missingSource:Houston Police Department
Four-year-old Maleah Davis went missing from Houston in early May. Her stepfather Derion Vence was ultimately charged with felony charge of injury to a child. Tragically, Maleah was buried without any other charges, including murder, being levied against anyone else.
20. Road rage vigilante Hannah Payne accused murdering a Black driverSource:WSB-TV Screenshot
In one of the most startling cases of the year, Hannah Payne was accused of murdering Kenneth Herring, a 62-year-old Black driver who hit her car while he was experiencing a diabetic shock on May 8. Payne followed him for about a mile, boxed-in his car with hers, got out of her car and shot him to death.
21. Robert F. Smith vows to pay off student debt at Morehouse CollegeSource:Getty
Graduates of Morehouse College received the gift of a lifetime at their commencement ceremony on May 19 when philanthropist and billionaire Robert F. Smith pledged to pay off the student loan debt for the entire 2019 graduating class.
Pictured: Smith gives the commencement address during the Morehouse College 135th Commencement at Morehouse College on May 19 in Atlanta.
22. “When They See Us” is released on NetflixSource:Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix
Ava Duvernay directed the Netflix film that documented ordeal that five young Black and brown teens endured after being falsely accused of raping a white woman in the 1980s.
Their story of tragedy to triumph became known as The Exonerated Five after their cases were revisited years later. The movie was one of the year’s biggest for Netflix after it was released on May 31.
23. Virginia Beach mass shootingSource:Getty
A disgruntled employee entered a municipal building in Virginia Beach and killed 12 people on May 31. It was one of many mass public shootings that took place in the nation in 2019.
Pictured: Worship Team member Mallerie Baize raises her arms up and sings as she joins others during a memorial service for the 12 victims of a mass shooting at Piney Grove Baptist Church on June 2 in Virginia Beach. Eleven city employees and one private contractor were shot to death Friday in the Municipal Center Operations building by engineer DeWayne Craddock who had worked for the city for 15 years.
24. “It’s above me now” Best Western viral videoSource:Twitter video screenshot
A hotel clerk who said he was called the N-word by a would-be guest got the last laugh after he tweeted a video of the exchange that ended up going viral in early June.
The video shows the clerk, a Black man, rejecting each desperate attempt to stay at the hotel by the woman who had apparently called him the N-word during an earlier phone call. When she came to the hotel to plead her case in person, the clerk was ready for her, and then some.
25. Bushwick Bull dies at 52Source:Getty
Legendary Houston rapper Bushwick Bill, a founding member of the iconic Geto Boys, June 9 at the age of 52 after a brief fight with cancer. The diminutive hip-hop luminary from the genre’s golden age announced in May that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Pictured: Bushwick Bill of The Geto Boys performs onstage during Beach Goth Festival at Los Angeles State Historic Park on Aug. 5, 2018 in Los Angeles.
26. Dominican Republic deaths of AmericansSource:Getty
Multiple Americans died in June following trips to the Dominican Republic. The deaths were attributed to mystery illnesses that may have been acquired from drinking tainted liquor from minibars in resort hotel rooms.
Pictured: The beach area in front of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is seen on June 20 where a tourist died unexpectedly after getting sick two months ago at the hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. News reports and the United States State Department are saying that seven Americans have become ill and died this year and two more families are reported to have come forward saying their relatives died unexpectedly last year while staying at resorts in the Dominican Republic. The FBI is assisting the Dominican authorities in the investigation into why tourists are dying.
27. Blue Bell ice cream licking video goes viralSource:Twitter
A teenager made national news in July after starring in a viral video showing her licking inside a half-gallon of Blue Bell ice cream in a grocery store before putting the container back in a freezer for unsuspecting shoppers to buy. The video prompted food contamination worries as copycats across the country imitated the girl.
28. Black Arts Icon Sadie Roberts-Joseph ‘Found Murdered’Source:facebook
Sadie Roberts-Joseph, an artist, activist and founder of Baton Rouge’s Odell S. Williams Now & Then Museum of African American History, was found dead in the trunk of a car on July 12.
29. Jay-Z And NFL announce partnershipSource:Getty
Jay-Z teamed up with the NFL in a surprise move that angered many fans who have been boycotting the pro football league over its treatment of exiled quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had been blacklisted because he was kneeling in a silent protest for social justice.
The image of Jay and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sharing a laugh was compared to a “gut punch.”
Pictured: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay Z at the Roc Nation and NFL Partnership Announcement at Roc Nation on Aug. 14 in New York City.
30. Malik Yoba makes “trans attracted” commentsSource:Getty
Actor Malik Yoba revealed on social media at the end of August that he was sexually attracted to trans women, sparking a firestorm of controversy that included a trans woman accusing him of paying her for sex as a teen and a fraternity removing him from an honorary position.
Pictured: Malik Yoba attends Warner Bros. Hosts A Special Screening Of “Just Mercy” at DGA Theater on Sept. 8 in New York City.
31. Ed Buck is finally chargedSource:Getty
Wealthy Democratic donor Ed Buck was finally charged for his role in a series of Black men turning up dead from apparent drug overdoses in his West Hollywood home.
Pictured: Buck appears in court on Sept. 19 on state charges of running a drug den in his West Hollywood apartment.
32. Amber Guyger’s murder trialSource:WFAA.com screenshot
Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to a lenient 10 years in prison after she was found guilty of murder for killing Botham Jean inside his own home last year.
Guyger repeatedly tried to showcase her emotions while she was testifying but the jury quickly returned a guilty verdict in September.
33. Candace Owens congress testimonySource:CSPAN screenshot
Candace Owens, the conservative Black woman who once defended Adolf Hitler, lied to Congress at least eight times on Sept. 19 when she testified about how she thought white supremacy and white nationalism didn’t pose any threat to Black people.
34. RuPaul called out at Emmys for lack of diversitySource:Getty
There wasn’t one other Black person on stage with RuPaul when he spoke to the press about winning more Emmys for his hit show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and one Black reporter in the room let him know about it in no uncertain terms.
RuPaul played it off by making jokes, which led to him being dragged on social media for his apparent laissez faire approach.
Pictured: RuPaul poses with the award for Outstanding Competition Program in the press room during the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on Sept. 22 in Los Angeles.
35. Judge Tammy Kemp hugs Amber GuygerSource:WFAA.com YouTube live stream screenshot
It was the hug heard ’round the world as Judge Tammy Kemp presented Amber Guyger with a bible and hugged her shortly after her guilty verdict was read for murdering Botham Jean in his own home last year in Dallas.
Kemp was widely slammed for her sympathetic treatment during such a high-profile murder trial.
In October, Kemp said during an interview that she “wouldn’t be getting this criticism if Miss Guyger were Black.”
36. Popeyes brings back its chicken sandwichSource:Getty
Popeyes brought back its chicken sandwich, inviting a frenzy that resulted in multiple instances of violence with at least one case turning deadly.
Pictured: A sign indicating that chicken sandwiches are sold out hangs at the Popeyes location on Brookline Avenue near Fenway Park in Boston on Aug. 26.
37. TMZ fires Van LathanSource:Getty
Former TMZ personality Van Lathan said he wanted to make clear was that he’s not “the angry, violent Black guy” much of the media coverage made him out to be after he got fired. Multiple reports said Lathan attacked his white co-worker Michael Babcock by choking him. Lathan suggested that was a mischaracterization.
Pictured: Van Lathan attends the REVOLT & AT&T Summit on Oct. 25 in Los Angeles.
38. Cyntoia Brown is freed from prisonSource:Getty
Cyntoia Brown was released from prison on Aug. 7 after spending 15 years behind bars.
She was only 16 years old when she shot and killed Johnny Mitchell Allen, 43, in self-defense. Brown was arrested in 2004 after she thought Allen was reaching for a gun when he tried to solicit her for sex. Prosecutors argued she wanted to rob him and was not defending herself. After being tried as an adult, Brown was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006.
Pictured: Cyntoia Brown Long speaks onstage during An Evening with Cyntoia Brown at Clark Atlanta University on Nov. 11 in Atlanta.
39. Trump is impeachedSource:Getty
The president was finally impeached on Dec. 18.
Pictured: President Donald Trump departs the White House for a campaign rally in Michigan on Dec. 18, the same day the U.S. House of Representatives vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
40. Eddie Murphy hosts “Saturday Night Live”Source:Getty
Eddie Murphy returned to his old stomping grounds for the first time in 35 years to host “Saturday Night Live” with help from a few of his comedian friends – Tracy Morgan, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Kenan Thompson.