As with any decade, the 2010s brought countless notable events to U.S. news. From ecological disasters to social movements to astronomical phenomena, there were many news events that made headlines in the U.S. over the last 10 years.
BP’s devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, leaked 3.19 million barrels of oil into the water, according to Smithsonian Ocean. The tragedy was classified as the worst oil spill in American history, and USA Today reported that BP ended up paying an estimated $62 billion in damages.
That payment was made possible, in part, by Dr. Joe Goy, former professor of biology at Harding. Just one year before the oil spill, Goy helped write a book with 139 experts about the ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. “Gulf of Mexico – Origin, Waters, and Biota (Volume 1: Biodiversity)” helped hold BP accountable for their damages, since it was so extensive in its coverage of the Gulf’s biology.
“The book covers everything from bacteria to whales,” Goy said in the 2011 Petit Jean Yearbook. “I was privileged to be one of the [individuals] chosen to work on it.”
When former police officer George Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 for the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, the Black Lives Matter movement sparked one of the biggest social movements of the decade.
Conversations and controversy surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement abounded throughout the U.S. then and now, even on Harding’s campus. In 2015, alumnus Zach Dailey contributed a guest opinion article for The Bison.
“Black Lives Matter,” Dailey wrote in his opening lines. “Go ahead, read it again. Black lives matter. There’s no need to add any qualifiers. No ‘all lives matter’ or ‘police lives matter’ or even ‘innocent lives matter.’ Are all of these true statements? Absolutely. If we add those qualifiers, however, we take away from the power and the message of the movement. This message is not about asserting that black lives matter more than any others.”
On the lighter side of newsworthy events, the U.S. experienced several rare astronomical happenings. In 2017, the “Great American Eclipse” had millions of Americans squinting skyward. This total solar eclipse — with a zone of totality marking a path across the entire contiguous U.S. — occurred on Aug. 21, 2017, the first day of classes for the semester at Harding. The University provided some pairs of protective sunglasses to see the partial eclipse from campus.
Professor of Mathematics Jason Holland said he asked the dean of his college if he could miss the first day of class to photograph the once in a lifetime event.
“It was an experience that I will never forget,” Holland said. “Those two minutes of a sun vanishing and the stars and planets popping out are burned in my memory.”
There’s no way to encompass all newsworthy events to occur in the U.S. over the past decade. These examples are small pieces of a much larger story that was ten years in the making.