“Five, four, three, two, one. HAPPY NEW YEAR!” At 11:59 pm on December 31, 2019, we all raised our glasses of champagne for a toast, took a spoonful of those good luck black-eyed peas, said a quick prayer and sang this in unison as we entered into the year of 2020 expecting happiness. 

Little did we know, there’d be a long list of reasons that would make 2020 one of, if not the most trying years that we’d ever seen. And at the top of that list is the loss of human souls—our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. And we cannot forget about those strangers who became like family after giving us some of the greatest songs, performances on and off the field, and performances in our favorite TV shows and movies. We even lost a few of our champions who sacrificed their lives so that our lives would be filled with more equality, equity, and justice.

Browsing through this year’s social media feeds, you’ll find farewell tributes to notable people like NBA legend Kobe Bryant, civil rights icon John Lewis, our forever Wakanda king Chadwick Boseman, and countless others who’ve left an indelible mark on our lives.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the countless extraordinary people who we’ve lost in 2020 due to America’s destruction of Black lives. While their lives meant nothing to the systems that work to destroy Blackness and the people who uphold those systems, their lives mean everything to us. They are us. Let’s continue to give them the attention and love they deserved while living. They have forever changed the world, and we will always honor them. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Jacob Blake. Rayshard Brooks. Daniel Prude. Every. Single. Other. We see you. We love you. We honor you. We will never forget you.

Scroll down through the gallery as ESSENCE pays tribute to those who we’ve lost.

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