100 Reasons to Love America This Year
In these unprecedented and challenging times, we can still applaud the nation's ingenuity, optimism — and pursuit of equality
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, racially diverse and intergenerational groups gathered in New York City (shown here) and around the country, defying a pandemic to protest police brutality and to help change — and heal — the world.
"There is something different here," former President Barack Obama said of the protests, citing "a far more representative cross section of America out in the streets, peacefully protesting, who felt moved to do something because of the injustices that they have seen." The demonstrations, he said, would help America "live up to its highest ideal."
"While I may come across fine, to be honest, I feel more vulnerable than I’ve ever been," Gayle King writes in an essay for PEOPLE. "The past few months have been a perfect storm of pain, from COVID-19 to the death of George Floyd. My daughter Kirby, 34, and son Will, 33, are haunted too."
"But despite how frightening things are, I have hope," she continues, citing the recent peaceful protests for the Black Lives Matter movement and broader conversations about race. "In America we have an opportunity here to do better and be better. And now we all get the chance to do that."
Schools turned to remote learning, and adults got in on the act too, with teachers like RuPaul (pictured), Shonda Rhimes and Bob Woodward.
When you’re going nowhere, this is the way to get there.
The home-schooled 18-year-old Grammy winner became a music and style icon by unapologetically being herself.
Dr. Anthony Fauci
The trusted immunologist has directed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. Promoting social distancing and mask wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he said, “Now is the time ... to care selflessly about one another.”
Born Nora Lum, the 32-year- old rapper, comedian and actress became the first Asian-American woman to win a Lead Actress Golden Globe for her dramatic turn in The Farewell.
Magnolia Earl, 1, won the photo search contest to become the first adopted Gerber Baby.
Drinks made with whatever you have on hand. May help you survive endless Zoom calls.
Home Hair Color
You may not really need it, but the ads on your Instagram feed beg to differ.
Stephenie Meyer’s companion novel to Twilight drops Aug. 4.
Considered by many to be the best player in the NFL, the 24-year-old quarterback led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years.
The Cuomo Brothers
Frequently razzing each other on live TV, CNN's Chris (right) and New York governor Andrew are having a moment.
The Last Dance
ESPN's terrific Michael Jordan docuseries is the next best thing to watching live sports.
Celebrating with fanfare but from a distance.
NASCAR's only Black driver raced in a Black Lives Matter car and called for a Confederate flag ban in the sport — and got it.
Serena Williams & Alexis Ohanian
With the tennis star's support, the Reddit cofounder quit the company's board to make way for a Black leader.
Samuel L. Jackson
For 99 cents, you can get Sam's voice for the date or weather forecast.
Harry and Meghan
The royal family comes to America!
One good thing to come out of the pandemic: people in quarantine found their new best friends, like Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski and pup Neon.
The Nintendo Switch game is a family stress reliever.
In her first major performance since her 2018 overdose, the singer brought the Grammy audience to its feet.
Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
Their relationship has blossomed in quarantine, and their hit "Señorita" has had 1 billion YouTube views.
The perfect shoe for a waist-up life.
Timothée Chalamet's Pantry
A still life of our time in quarantine.
A possible shortage inspired memes, cakes — and a run on the Charmin Forever Roll, with 1,700 sheets.
Guess the Gibberish Instagram Filter
For when you've Netflixed everything. (Answer to this one? Krispy Kreme Doughnuts)
Nurses & Doctors
Isolated from their own families, working on little sleep and sometimes with inadequate protection, frontline caregivers risk their lives every day to save others. Nearly 600 health care professionals have died from COVID-19.
National Geographic Travel Instagram
You can see the world vicariously. Thanks to National Geographic photographers, 39 million followers of @natgeotravel have access to far-off lands and stunning wildlife.
The DIY craft had a meteoric rise in popularity during the pandemic. Enjoy it now; you'll be KonMari-ing it soon enough.
The Tony Award winner offered to be an audience for students whose high school musicals were canceled because of COVID-19.
The Pace of Medicine
The coronavirus pandemic has sparked innovations in medicine and vaccine development. But as Dr. Sanjay Gupta writes in an essay for PEOPLE, "At this time no one can be sure if any of these therapies or vaccines will work," referring to the 160 vaccines currently in trials around the world. "We can be certain, however, that the pace of medicine has forever been accelerated. All of humanity will benefit from that."
The Supreme Court ruled — by a 6 to 3 vote — that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender employees from workplace discrimination. “This ruling will affect millions of LGBTQ people, possibly in a more profound way than marriage equality,” says Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David. “Not all of us are looking to marry, but the vast majority of us work.”
Made in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, since 1910, the marshmallow chicks and bunnies are a guilty pleasure, eaten fresh, stale, microwaved until they triple in size or — the healthiest way — turned into elaborate, colorful dioramas.
If you can be treated virtually via video chat, why schedule an in-person appointment?
The red Muppet scored his own talk show on HBO Max: The Not Too Late Show with Elmo.
The king of TikTok — the überpopular video-short platform — has 22 million followers who've watched him dance, work out and "chip" his teeth eating corn off a power drill.
An Oscar at last! Also a Golden Globe, a SAG Award and more for his supporting role in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood. After 33 years in the business, he said, “I’m a bit gobsmacked.”
Virtual Commencement Addresses
At high schools and colleges across the country, the class of 2020 was denied a proper send-off, but outgoing seniors will never forget their graduation. Luminaries from former President Barack Obama to Meghan Markle came through via video with inspiring words.
The CNN anchor's perfect blend of empathy and intelligence should make him a great dad to his new son Wyatt Morgan Cooper.
Last summer America's most decorated gymnast — with a combined 30 Olympic and world championship medals — nailed the first-ever double backflip with two twists in competition, a move henceforth known as the "Biles."
But with the Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021, the 23-year-old superstar has struggled to adjust to the 2020 No-lympics. "It will be mentally challenging pushing for another year," she told the Associated Press. "To take your foot off the gas and reset, it's hard." On the Today show she said she's been "trying to stay healthy and in shape" — we hope for another record-setting Olympic run.
Hulu’s Ramy, about an Egyptian family living in New Jersey, won praise for its portrayal of American Muslims. Then the actor, 29, captured hearts during his Golden Globes speech for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. “I know you guys haven’t seen my show,” said Youssef, whose fellow nominees were well-known: Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Ben Platt. With his new platform, Youssef says, “I need to make my voice heard but also help others have theirs heard as well.”
Emme Maribel Muñiz
The 12-year-old proved she’s a future superstar when she sang “Let’s Get Loud” with her mom (that would be J.Lo) at the Super Bowl halftime show.
Birth Control Pills
Sixty years ago the FDA approved the contraceptive; women have had more control over their bodies ever since.
Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts
Fresh, delicious — and discounted for health care workers on Mondays until Labor Day.
Many Americans had never heard of it, and then it became the essential tool for meetings, classes and reuniting with old friends, all while staying at home.
Designer Christian Siriano and others used their sewing machines for the greater good to make PPE. "This gave us a way to help even a little," Siriano said.
A New Day in Space
The first partnership between NASA and private enterprise is going smoothly. Aboard the International Space Station on June 8, SpaceX Crew Dragon astronaut Bob Behnken (left, with Doug Hurley during a test) said the collaboration was “a message of understanding and cooperation ... Our planet is one we share.”
Broadcasting at Home
For the past few months we have been allowed into celebrities' homes, able to glimpse their kitchens and bookshelves. There's even a Twitter feed, Room Rater, that judges the spaces. They give extra points for plants.
And ... pants? For Will Reeve, on this day, his home took a back seat to his boxers. "I have ARRIVED," the ABC News reporter tweeted after his pantsless interview (he swore he was in shorts). "In the most hilariously mortifying way possible."
The Friends Reunion on HBO Max
The One Where It Was Postponed Because of a Pandemic. “It is definitely going to happen,” Lisa Kudrow (with the cast in October) said. “When we can do it, we will do it.”
The patron saint of social distancing has always hated shaking hands and leaving his house. Recently, he made a PSA asking people not to be “covidiots.”
Automakers Becoming Ventilator Manufacturers
In a nation facing a ventilator shortage, Ford and General Motors helped by temporarily switching production from cars to breathing machines.
Underappreciated until COVID-19 forced kids to learn from home, teachers rose to the occasion yet again with compassion, creativity — and love for their students.
This 14-year-old Atlanta ninth grader created the Renegade, a viral dance smash hit incorporating popular moves like the Wave and the Dab, to “Lottery” by rapper K Camp.
A sensation, this is. The puppet from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian has become the character of the year, inspiring memes, toys and a New Yorker cartoon.
The San Francisco 49ers assistant coach, 33, became the first openly gay and the first female coach in Super Bowl history.
Buildings in Blue
On April 9 more than 400 monuments, office buildings and stadiums in cities across the country were illuminated to honor front-line and essential workers. Some buildings turned on the lights later and left them on longer.
Yale's Free Happiness Course
"The Science of Well-Being" is the most popular class in the 319-year history of the school. Professor Laurie Santos (pictured) teaches the habits that lead to more fulfilling lives — and it's free online via Coursera.
It's more about sanity, less about sourdough.