I Remember Where I Was When… Huge Moments In Pop Culture

September 16, 2013  |  
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For our parents it was the moon landing, the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. But each generation has huge political, social and cultural moments that will remain forever ingrained in our minds. Check out these moments, so iconic, that we remembered where we were when we heard that they’d happened.

… I first heard Confessions

This may seem like a trivial way to start off this list. But let’s be honest, Confessions.changed.the.game! Everything lined up perfectly for this album. We were still buying CDs, there was a shortage of R&B singers and Usher was fresh off of a breakup with Chilli. We just assumed he was going to tell the messy story on his album. Who knows how much of that album was actually about Chilli. (Years later, J.D. came forward and said the title track was actually about his own indiscretions.) But once we heard the songs, it really didn’t matter who or what they were about. It was (and still is) hot fire. I remember I first got the album from a girl on my volleyball team. From there, I spent the next several weeks listening to the album in my sophomore journalism class. (Clearly, it was an unstructured environment.)


…Aaliyah died

I remember I was a middle schooler, laying in my bed on a Saturday morning when my sister busted in my bedroom to tell me that Aaliyah had died. I can only say that my first reaction was complete disbelief. How would Aaliyah die?! It would later come to light that it was a plane crash. And then even later than that we learned it was issue with too much baggage on the plane. Being around 12 at the time, everyone who was in their twenties seemed super old. But now, realizing that Aaliyah died at just 22 years old… So tragic.

…on September 11, 2001

This is a biggie. I’d bet most Americans over the age of five during Sept. 11th have strong recollections about this day. I was in my friend’s mom’s car on my way to school when I heard that the attack on the World Trade Center. I remember the tone of the reporting wasn’t that serious. And I didn’t know how serious it was either. I always knew the World Trade Center as the Twin Towers so the gravity of the situation didn’t hit me until I listened to my teachers talking about it throughout the day. And then it really hit me when I got home and actually saw the planes flying into the buildings.

(AP Photo/Vince Bucci, Pool)

…the O.J. verdict was read

I was in elementary school the day the O.J. Simpson verdict was read on October 3, 1995. I personally don’t remember it; but my sister, who is a year younger than me, does. Even though I don’t recall, I know eyeballs were glued to the television. According to Wikipedia, an estimated 100 million people were watching. Long distance call volume declined, trading on the New York Stock Exchange decreased and water usage decreased as people avoided using the restroom. Productivity slowed so much that folks estimate the verdict cost $480 million in lost productivity.

Source: CNN

…George Zimmerman was acquitted.

It was the weekend and I don’t believe the networks were live streaming the exact moment when George Zimmerman was acquitted. But I know my sister and I were watching a movie when she looked at her cell phone and suddenly gasped. I had heard that the verdict was going to come back that day, so I had been waiting for the news. Immediately, I knew that she was gasping about George Zimmerman. She told me that he had been acquitted and I couldn’t believe it. I logged on to my computer to verify and lo and behold she was right. Learning that Zimmerman would walk away scott free for killing Trayvon was and still is devastating to say the least.

…President Obama was elected.

There’s a portion in the new movie, The Butler, where they show the announcement that Barack Obama was the President-Elect of the United States. I’ve seen the movie twice and every time, I cry. That moment was so beautiful. For black people in America, and perhaps even worldwide, it meant so much. It meant that America was ready to at least begin letting go of the prejudice, discrimination and racism. It meant that barriers were falling. And it validated, once again, or for the first time that black people can do anything.

Daniel Deme / WENN

…Michael Jackson died.

In the very back, in the recesses of our mind, we know that everyone is going to die. But it’s hard for us to imagine musical legends, icons passing away. So when they do, it makes an impact. I remember I was in the Dairy Queen drive thru when my friend texted me saying that Michael Jackson had just passed. My friend is often the one to break celebrity death news. But even still, I didn’t believe her. For a while TMZ was the only outlet that had reported his death. Finally, CNN, the LA Times and then the television stations confirmed it. Being that Michael was just 50 years old and was set to go on tour, it was so unexpected.

Source: WENN

…Whitney Houston died.

Call me naive, but I really believed that Whitney was working on her sobriety at the time of her death. So I can honestly say I was shocked to hear that she passed. She seemed to be gaining weight, was starring in the movie Sparkle and was trying to do the whole comeback thing musically. Like with Michael, I  was completely shocked. When Whitney passed, I was already working with MadameNoire, so I immediately checked to the site to see if we needed to write about it.

…Beyoncé announced her pregnancy.

When Beyoncé announced that she was with child at the MTV VMAs, it was literally the most tweeted about moment in history. I wrote about why Beyoncé’s pregnancy was so important to so many people; but for the sake of brevity, we’ve kind of “watched” Beyoncé grow up, her relationship seems like a fairy tale and babies are pretty awesome. Needless to say, it was huge moment for pop culture.

What other moments were so big you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard about them?

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  • What about Casey Anthony

  • cellyb2000

    Prettttty sure that Aaliyah died on a Saturday afternoon so you couldn’t have heard it saturday morning

  • alex

    I think Tupac and biggie shoulda been on the list….

  • Kelly

    I think the Janet Jackson Superbowl performance (nipplegate) was a big moment in pop culture too!

  • jasmyne riley

    What happened to the DC sniper. Jordan retiring from the NBA. Kobe getting arrested for rape. Tiger’s mistresses.

  • thepreshest

    I think a lot of people’s opinion is that Bey’s pregnancy was not “huge” but I think it’s on the list because Veronica said it was the most TWEETED about moment in history. Although Obama being elected as president for his first term is on the list I also think him being elected for his second term was huge too.

    • Meemo

      Just b/c something is most “tweeted” about simply means it was important to those who post on twitter. Doesn’t necessarily reflect a consensus that it was “huge”.

  • Brickleberry

    Proofreading is a MUST!!! MM, where do you all find these bloggers/wanna-be journalists?

  • Theresia

    What’s so special about Beyonce being pregnant? Women get pregnant and give birth everyday. The only reason why I could see why she made it on this list was because she’s Black and she was actually married. What about the deaths of Tupac and Biggie? What about the death of Eazy-E from AIDS?

  • bluekissess

    By the looks of it people are mad about Beyonce and her pregnancy. When I found out that she was pregnant I said about time and then I thought about what the baby will look like(blue stays mean muggin). I can see how that can be on the list. Pop is short for popular so, I’m sure other celebs were pregnant at that time? Me trying to find a excuse for why it should is giving me a headache. Her announcement wasn’t that popular. MN wanted her on the list some way some how.

  • Confessions I didnt buy the CD. Beyonce announcing she was preggo, I missed that VMA. Everything else I can remember that day as if it was yesterday. Especially MJ passing.

  • scandalous7

    didnt she debut her pragnancy in that orange dress on the red carpet?

  • Racquel

    Unlike some haters on this list, I was excited to hear about Beyonce’s pregnancy. Not just because its an everyday pregnancy but we’re close in age and I followed her career since I was in high school. It’s almost like you know her as much as you can know a celebrity you’ve never met. I think she’s an inspiration to young women everywhere, the Tina Turner of our day, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to celebrate her or her accomplishments as her fans. But if you’re not a fan, sobeit.

    • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

      Not a fan does not = hater.

      • Racquel

        *Kanye shrug*

      • guest

        Saying you aren’t a fan and making rude comments as if you just left her house and know her are totally different.

        • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

          Saying that her announcing her pregnancy wasn’t a life shattering event is rude? Might want to go check the dictionary on that one.

    • Pam

      Well, she’s not an inspiration to THIS young woman, the real heroes like firefighter, military and women who beat cancer are more like inspiration to me, sorry bout it!

      • Racquel

        And that’s cool if that’s who you look up to but your comment also reeks of hostility and…dare I say…jealousy?

        • Pam

          I’m not jealous, just bored and tired of the hype around her. Why would I be jealous of another human being for, because she has more money than me and she’s a celebrity, chile please! Sorry I can’t conform to worshiping Bey, sorry bout it!

          *SMH, LMFAO and rolls eyes*

        • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

          GIrl STOP reaching for something that isn’t there before you fall.

      • Thank you! From someone that was prior navy.

    • ChickenNoodleSoup

      Come back to earth girl, come back to earth! Just because someone is not a fan of Beyonce doesn’t mean that they’re a hater or jealous of her. Not everybody has to be a fan on Beyonce because she’s a bigger celebrity.

  • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

    When 9/11 happened I was in Art Class in middle school. I think I was 13

    When Aaliyah I was at home watching the news getting ready for school. Again I was 13.

    When Obama was elected I was watching it at home having a huge Obama party

    Don’t remember where I was when Confessions came out. Even though it was the jam, it wasn’t a serious event NOR was Beyoncé’s pregnancy. Come on MN yall doing too much.

    When Michael Jackson died, I was in the hair salon getting her laid and I heard it on the radio before anyone else noticed. So I repeated what the radio said and then started to cry a little bit.

    When Whitney died, I was sitting in Mcdonalds with my ex when it flashed across the tv screen. My heart sank so deep. I felt like I lost an aunt in my own mind. She was such an inspiration to me

  • Maile00

    I feel old…we were all headed to the club when we heard Aaliyah died. We couldn’t believe it.

    • chaka1

      I remember we were in the club when Princess Diana died. Everyone got emotional and started crying. Even two men.

  • Superfox Mackin

    When 9/11 happened I was in the 8th grade and I was at home and then I went to school. Our principal told us to go home for the day because it was possible that the Transamerica Building in San Francisco was going to be attacked, thankfully which never happened. It didn’t until hours later when my grandma explained to me what happened, it was so sad…….it was like America was quiet that day.

    When Aaliyah I was at home watching the news, I was in shock, I could believe it, I felt sad because I felt the time she did shine was after her death.

    When Obama was elected I was in my living room screaming my lungs and on the phone. It was my first election and I don’t regret my decision ever for voting for President Obama.

    When Zimmerman was acquitted, I was at home pissed the hell off.

    When Usher’s Confessions came out I was in Summer School

    When Michael Jackson died, I was on the BART train on my way home, I called my mom and she was very sad.

    When Beyonce announced her pregnancy…..well I was at home doing homework….that didn’t matter much….I felt that was totally overrated although I was happy for them both and that Blue Ivy is totally adorable.

  • Tiki

    When I heard Beyonce was pregnant, I was……..wait, who gives a rat’s isht! Like women don’t have babies everyday! And I’m with ODB63, why Tupac and Biggie’s deaths ain’t on this list!

  • ODB63

    You could have replaced Beyoncé pregnancy for Biggie and Tupac’s death

    • Superfox Mackin

      I know right?

    • Pam

      Thank you! Women get preggers everyday, the media treated it like she was giving birth to second coming of Jesus. Tupac and Biggie’s deaths should have been on this list because I was a freshman in high school when both their deaths occur.

    • chaka1

      and when Left Eye was killed in that car crash!! I was very upset…

  • Natasha Thomas

    OJ Trial- was 13, sitting in my 8th grade class and we all jumped for joy when the verdict was read.

    Aaliyah Plane Crash- was 19, just came home from a party and listened to the radio and the DJ said she died in a plane crash, I cried because she was (and still) my fave female singer and I ending up naming my daughter after her.

    9/11- was 19, home sick from college and my mom called me to tell me what happened

    Obama elected- was 26, at home taking care of my 4 month old daughter (now 5 years old) and waited for the results of the election. My hubby and I voted for him earlier in the day and celebrated when he won.

    MJ’s death- was 27, at Party City shopping for my daughter’s 1st birthday party which was 3 days away and I heard on the radio at the store that he died.

    Whitney’s death- Was 30, at my friend’s birthday party and looked on FB from my phone and found out the news and told my friends that she died. They turned on the TV and to hear more about her death.

    I could care less about anything else on the list, especially the Beyonce pregnancy announcement.

    • chaka1

      I’m a little older. I can remember earlier defining moments:

      I was in elementary school when Elvis died. I remember this because my teacher had a huge poster of him in the back of the classroom. She walked out in the hallway and cried.

      I remember being a kid when serial k1ller Wayne Williams murdered all those black boys in Atlanta.

      I remember watching Michael Jackson moonwalked on the Motown special and debuted Billie Jean.

      I remember watching Madonna in the wedding dress on the MTV awards.

      I was in middle school when Marvin Gaye died. I remember my mother sobbing in the kitchen while watching the news.

      I remember standing in line at the record store for about an hour as we waited to buy a copy of Purple Rain.

      I was a Junior in high school when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. I remember a Freshman came running into the lunchroom screaming that the shuttle blew up. We watched the replay on TV in Chemistry class all afternoon. My teacher was crying the whole time. We were supposed to watch the mission because there was a teacher on board and an astronaut from our state. I remember that being the sadden day ever.

      I was in college when Magic Johnson admitted he had HIV. I remember watching it in our dorm room on the news and everyone was in disbelief.

      I was on a plane to LA the day the Gulf War started. I vividly remember there were a total of 15 people on a 250 passenger aircraft from Atlanta. Both airports were empty.

  • Trisha_B

    I remember when Obama won. My freshman year at my HBCU. I remember being in the dorm & everyone sitting in front of the tv waiting for it to be announced. The minute his name flashed across the screen, the dorm building erupted. People ran out their rooms screaming, all the other dorm buildings ran outside. People started playing Jeezy “my president is black…” The crowd went around the whole campus that night yelling out for Obama. The crowd somehow made it’s way to the middle of street, stopping traffic. Police came out & tried to break up the crowd but failed LOL. So they redirected traffic for the next hour while we celebrated for our president. We have a statue of Fredrick Douglass on our campus, someone put on an OBama shirt on it lol. That day is when i realized how much i loved being at an HBCU, as much as it drives me crazy, i loved what it meant to be there during that time!

    W/ that said, i really don’t get why beyonce’s pregnancy is on the list. Even Usher’s confessions lol

    • CoCo Lee

      OK so did we go 2 the same hbcu? Because we did the exact same thing when Obama won… And it was my freshman year also lol

      • Jacara Fatin

        We did the SAME thing at my college. Lol, wasn’t an HBCU…so you know we made a certain group of people PRETTY upset lol

      • Trisha_B

        Morgan State University?!

    • Meemo


      • Trisha_B

        Morgan State

  • Momma Dee Tha Q.U.E.E.N

    idk about Confessions… really? All these moments and y’all got Confessions…just sayin…

  • Kiana

    Wow…haters are rampant

    • Stacy

      Haters?? What is there to hate on? SYDAD!

  • LadiesNight

    Beyonce announcing her pregnancy was not something to remember. How was it a “huge” moment in pop culture? People get pregnant and have babies EVERYDAY,so how is it a “huge” moment?SMFH!!!

    • Suchalady

      That part HAD to be a joke. How is her pregnancy a huge moment in pop culture? Is she the first person to have a baby?! Gtfoh…

    • chaka1

      It was a big moment because….
      Hold on…

      I’m going to stretch here because maybe she was the first black A-lister for this generation who is married to another black celebrity to get pregnant?

      That’s all I have. I honestly don’t know.