On the last day of 2020, I read jokes on social media going around about blackeyed peas.  

A tried-and-true tradition was turned into a cautionary tale: Don’t soak them peas this year. They didn’t bring us a lick of luck of 2020. We’re walking into 2021 with new traditions.  

I laughed and agreed at first, but then I thought about it. What if the peas we sowed on our New Year’s plates actually did sprout goodness? It was just harder to see and hear because it is hard to turn down the volume of a global pandemic and generations worth of racial trauma. But hope is still there breathing and alive.  

Which is why I am starting the first Black Joy of the year with a powerful video featuring Black Alabamians singing “Auld Lang Syne,” the Scottish ballad you hear every new year. In a video titled “For The Sake Of Old Times,” Birmingham-based Studio 1504 harmonized the choir’s performance with emotional images of this summer’s protest and the downfall of Confederate monuments.  

And y’all, the video will give you chills of hope and a remind you that not all of 2020 should be forgotten.  

So continue eat your blackeyed peas, y’all. It is not too late and I’m sure your ancestors will forgive you. As another way to remind you of the kindness of 2020, here are five moments of Black Joy we won’t forget: 

  • In collaboration with the Magic City Poetry Festival, we celebrated the power of the Black community through drums and spoken word during Juneteenth.  

  • Birminghamian Lauren Hood continues her journey to become an Olympic gymnast – at age 11.  May her kind words help you snatch your goals this year because clearly she is.  Give it your best and do not give upIt’s one of the best things you can ever do because you build confidence, strength (mentally and physically), and skill.” 

    Lauren Hood, 11, poses with her multiple medals she earned during the Alabama Compulsory State Meet in Foley, Alabama on Dec. 4. She is now two-time Level 4 state champion. (Courtesy of Anthony Hood)

     

  • Theresa Jackson Jordan, who is 54, celebrated the end of a chaotic election season with her baton twirling magic while performing  Beyonce’s cover of “Before I Let Go.” “If you are stuck and there is something that used to bring you joy and you haven’t done it in a while, I think you should start anew.”    

  • Environmental justice activist Catherine Flowers won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and will be raking in $625,000 worth of grant funds over five yearsFlowers talks about how literally growing up with those who founded “Black power” empowered her to fight for the South.  “My ancestors are here. They are in the soil hereI feel like part of my strength comes from my ancestors and I want to honor them by continuing to make this place better.”   
  • Wesley Thompson steps with his sons as he celebrates Alpha Phi Alpha’s Founder’s Day – hoping to turn them into Alphas, too. Cause you know, legacies. 

May we all continue to embrace our own Black magic and move in love, kindness and joy in 2021. See y’all next time!  

Share your moments of Black joy with us. Send me an email at jdunigan@al.com and share your happiness and laughter with us! Also, take a minute to check out and join the Black Magic Project’s Facebook page where we celebrate and discuss Black culture and community.