COMPILED BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Daytona Times chose the top stories our newspaper staff reviewed, covered or wrote this year. Factors considered include newsworthiness, local relevance, uniqueness, and emotional impact.
COVID-19 took lives and livelihoods
The coronavirus pandemic dominated headlines in 2020 and it didn’t spare us locally. There were there were more 21,715 cases in Volusia County as of Dec. 30 and 433 deaths. Schools, businesses and colleges closed temporarily, and some businesses closed for good.
The local economy, which is heavily invested in tourism, is still reeling from the pandemic, including the hospitality and lodging industry. Sports events were canceled and even some seasons lost. Vaccinations are underway but normalcy or anything close seems far away.
Deaths reported by the Times included longtime community activist Norma Bland, 71, who died from complications due to the coronavirus. So, did Harry Lawrence Burney, III, a local singing legend who went on to have a productive career that took him around the world, died April 18 of complications from his battle against coronavirus. He was 75.
Bland and Burney both were graduates of Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU).
In March, the coronavirus shut down Bike Week on its biggest night, the second Saturday of the event when the city of Daytona Beach revoked permits effective 8 a.m. the next day. The move sent vendors and bikers home.
Local business owners were upset and lost money, including those on Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard, where the hub of biker activity takes place in the Black community. In Daytona Beach, the city didn’t not issue permits for Biketoberfest in October. Port Orange, Ormond and Holly Hill did hold Biketoberfest events.
Young named Daytona’s first Black police chief
Jakari Young made history this year, when at age 42, he became the city of Daytona Beach’s first Black police chief. He previously served as deputy chief under Chief Craig Capri who retired. Young is the 17th chief in the city’s history. He commands 265 officers, 60 civilians and a $40 million budget of a police force that protects a population of 68,000. Young has 19 years of experience with the police department in various roles, capacities and ranks.
B-CU accreditation restored, gets millions from state
Bethune-Cookman had its accreditation restored by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission of Colleges (SACSCOC) back in September. The university two years on probation. In recent years, it faced debt, a bad dorm deal, lawsuits and a junk bond rating. B-CU was reportedly $25 million in debt in 2018 and $18 million in 2019. B-CU reported its debt was $8 million in March. The university has taken measures to get financial stability, including restructuring its academic structure, reducing enrollment, and forgiving student debt.
B-CU got a helping hand to solidify its financial future the state Legislature approved around $17 million in recurring funds for the university, a $13 million increase. The funds cover gap funding, which is the cost students incur outside of tuition, room and board. The Legislature approved the measure in March. In July, Governor Ron DeSantis approved it at a press conference held on B-CU’s campus.
Henry and Anthony make history
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry was elected to a third consecutive term during the August primary where he defeated two challengers. He is the second longest-tenured mayor behind Larry Kelly (1974-1993). He is also the first Black mayor to get a third term.
Attorney Joan Anthony was elected 7th Judicial Circuit Judge for Group 14 on Nov. 3, becoming the first African American woman to hold that group seat.
She joined Alicia Washington as the second Black woman judge in the 7th Judicial Circuit. Washington became the first Black woman Judge in the 7th Judicial Circuit after winning the Group 27 seat during the primary. The 7th Judicial Circuit covers parts of Volusia, Flagler, St. John’s and Putnam counties.
Local protests and activism
The deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor led to nationwide protests against racism and injustice, including here locally.
The city of Daytona Beach also held a protest, where police marched with protesters, including Black Lives Matter protesters. Groups in New Smyrna Beach and Ormond Beach held weekly protests for months.