2011: American soldiers kill Osama bin Laden
On May 1, 25 Navy SEALs found and killed Osama bin Laden in a compound located in Abbottabad, Pakistan. He was the person credited with outlining the 9/11 attacks on the United States. After being identified, he was buried at sea within 24 hours, according to Islamic law.
2012: Obama wins reelection
Incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney, while Democrats maintained their control of the Senate. Obama became the only incumbent president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win with a smaller popular vote margin and fewer electoral votes than in his previous election.
2013: Snowden leaks U.S. intelligence
The security leak by Edward Snowden, a one-time employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), is described by some as one of the most important classified intelligence leaks in United States history. The leaks revealed the extent of the NSA’s program to collect citizens’ internet and phone records, as well as spying against national allies and other international targets.
2014: Protests tackle police brutality
Following the murders of unarmed Black men—Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner of New York City—by police officers, protesters took to the streets to demand justice for the men, as well as call attention to the disproportionate deaths of African Americans at the hands of the police. It also played a major role in shaping the growing Black Lives Matter movement.
2015: Same-sex marriage is legalized
On June 26, the Supreme Court shot down same-sex marriage bans in every U.S. state in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. The decision overrode 14 state bans on same-sex marriage in places like Texas, Georgia, and Michigan.
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2016: Trump is elected the president
While Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 election for the 45th president of the United States, Republican businessman Donald Trump won with 304 electoral votes. It was the fifth presidential election in which the winning candidate lost the popular vote.
2017: First openly transgender person takes seat in Virginia
Dania Roem, the first openly transgender person to be elected to a state legislature, unseated conservative Virginia lawmaker Robert G. Marshall, outraising him 3-to-1 in political donations. A trans candidate was elected in New Hampshire in 2012, but ultimately did not take office.
2018: A record 127 women head to 116th Congress
Following the 2018 midterm election, a record 102 women joined the House of Representatives, and 15 headed to the Senate. The election also saw major first-time wins for rising female politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib.
2019: Trump is impeached
Impeachment hearings began after President Donald Trump was accused of soliciting help from the Ukrainian government for his reelection bid, and of obstructing Congress. The president was impeached in January of 2020 by the House of Representatives, but was later acquitted by the Senate.
2020: Biden wins presidential election
Joe Biden made history by receiving more than 80 million votes—the most for any U.S. presidential candidate. The former senator and vice president is the 46th president of the United States. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, also broke down barriers by becoming the first woman and woman of color to be elected vice president.
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