Some describe 2020 as a year of “nonstop awfulness,” while others say it was a year of awakenings, with more becoming “woke” to not only systemic racism and social justice, but the importance of understanding politics, health, finances and education. The highs and lows of 2020 ranged from the rage surrounding murders of innocent Black folks, to the giddiness of discovering the availability of toilet paper. Overall, it was a year of learning how to truly count your blessings, embrace loved ones and feed families on a pot of beans, rice and cornbread. Here is look back at a year the world will never forget.
KAMALA HARRIS MAKES HISTORY!
Former Vice President Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, and will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2021. His running mate, former California Senator Kamala Harris has made history, soon-to-become the first Black and South Asian person, and the first woman, to be vice president of the U.S.
The 2020 presidential election made history with the highest voter turnout since 1900, with each of the two main tickets receiving more than 74 million votes, surpassing Barack Obama’s record of 69.5 million votes from 2008. Biden received more than 81 million votes, the most votes ever cast for a candidate in a U.S. presidential election.
The Democratic ticket of Biden and Harris defeated the Republican ticket of incumbent president Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Trump became the first U.S. president since George H. W. Bush in 1992 and the 11th in the country’s history to lose a bid for a second term, and Biden won the largest share of the popular vote against an incumbent since 1932.
The year kicked off with devastating news that rocked the sports world as NBA Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were tragically killed when Bryant’s personal helicopter slammed into a fog-covered hillside in Calabasas, California on Jan. 26, 2020. The group was headed from Orange County to Bryant’s daughter’s tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks when they encountered thick fog and crashed.
Patrick Lavon Mahomes II, a graduate of Texas Tech University, led the Kansas City Chiefs to Super Bowl LIV, their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years, where they defeated the San Francisco 49ers for their first Super Bowl victory since 1970. The game was played on February 2, 2020, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
At 24 years old, Mahomes was awarded the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, becoming the second African-American quarterback to win the award after Doug Williams, and youngest overall. He is the third African-American quarterback after Doug Williams and Russell Wilson and the second youngest quarterback after Ben Roethlisberger to win the Super Bowl.
The House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump, the 45th President, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on December 18, 2019. Trump became only the third president ever to be impeached, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, after Democrats raised concerns about his alleged attempts to seek foreign interference in the 2020 election and to hamper their investigation. The case moved to a Senate trial, which began on January 16, 2020, with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. On February 5, 2020, in a vote that again fell largely along party lines, the Senate voted to acquit President Trump on both charges.
On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old black man, was fatally shot while jogging near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia after being pursued by a racist father and son duo, and their neighbor, who allege they thought Arbery was committing burglaries in the area.
After video of the confrontation went viral, Travis McMichael (the shooter), his father Gregory, and William “Roddie” Bryan were indicted on various charges including malice murder, felony murder (4 counts), aggravated assault (2 counts), false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
COVID BRINGS WORLD TO ITS KNEES
In March, the COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, came about and knocked the world to its knees, literally and figuratively. The ongoing disease, which was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020 and a pandemic in March 2020.
RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES AS A WHOLE temporarily shut down until safety guidelines for professional sports players and fans were created, and the travel industry came to an abrupt halt as airlines had to reshape practices and some countries and tourist destinations closed entry points.
Panic buying became a major international phenomenon in February and March 2020, when stores around the world were depleted of items such as face masks, food, bottled water, milk, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, antibacterial wipes, painkillers and toilet paper.
COVID-19 brought about a new term – social distancing – which advises us to remain at least six feet from others and avoid gathering together in large groups.
In March, excited school kids and college students took their highly-anticipated Spring Break vacations and, sadly, many have not returned since. School districts across the U.S. shifted to “virtual” or “remote” learning, with students having to attend classes online.
As of December 2020, more than 79.9 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 1.75 million deaths attributed to COVID-19. Statistics show that one in 1,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American EMT, was fatally shot in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment on March 13 when white plainclothes officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) forced entry into her apartment as part of an investigation into drug dealing operations. Officers did not announce themselves and when gunfire erupted, Taylor was shot six times and died at the scene. On Sept. 15, the city of Louisville agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12 million and reform police practices. On September 23, a state grand jury indicted one of the officers on three counts of wanton endangerment for endangering Taylor’s neighbors with his shots, but none of the officers involved in the raid has been charged in Taylor’s death.
On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who graduated from Houston’s Jack Yates High School, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. During the arrest, Derek Chauvin – a white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department – knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly minutes after he was handcuffed, lying face down, begging police to stop and calling for his deceased mother. Even after Floyd stopped speaking, Chauvin refused pleas from a crowd of onlookers to lift his knee until medics told him to.
The following day, after videos made by witnesses and security cameras became public, Chauvin and three other officers who restrained Floyd were dismissed. Two autopsies found Floyd’s death to be a homicide. Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter, and the other three officers were also charged. Their trial has been scheduled to begin March 8, 2021. Floyd’s death sparked worldwide protests, with people flooding the streets and demanding justice, despite COVID-19.
Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén captured national headlines in a case that involved sexual harassment and abuse allegations, and failure to protect women in the military.
Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller helped lead the search for the young Houston woman, who was last seen alive April 22 in the parking lot outside her headquarters in Killeen. Her dismembered remains were found on June30. A suspect in the case, 20-year-old Aaron David Robinson, who was also stationed at Fort Hood, killed himself.
Guillen President Donald Trump promised Vanessa Guillén’s mother that her death would not be “swept under the rug.”
John Robert Lewis, known as the “Conscience of the Congress,” died on July 18 after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 80.
Lewis, the son of sharecroppers who survived a brutal beating by police during a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, became a towering figure of the civil rights movement and a longtime US congressman.
Lewis died on the same day as civil rights leader the Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian, who was 95. The dual deaths of the civil rights icons came at a time when the nation was grappling with racial upheaval in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests that swept the nation.
On August 23, 2020, Jacob S. Blake, a 29-year-old African American man, was shot in the back seven times by police officer Rusten Sheskey in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Three of Blake’s young sons witnessed the shooting. Protests followed, leading Kenosha County to declare a state of emergency overnight on August 24 after protests and destruction erupted in the city.
On August 25, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old, shot three protesters with an AR-15 style rifle during the protests. Two died and one was seriously injured. He was arrested the next day and charged with first-degree intentional homicide. His defense lawyers argue the shootings were in self-defense.
ATHLETES PROTEST FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
On Aug. 26, many professional athletes went on strike in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake. After the video of Blake’s shooting went viral, sparking protests and riots, athletes refused to play in their scheduled sports events, beginning with the Milwaukee Bucks, and spread across all sports teams in the NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS. In the Women’s Tennis Association, Naomi Osaka announced she would not play that day in the Cincinnati Masters semifinals as part of the protest. The strikes extended into August 27 and 28 when hockey players from the NHL walked out of their playoff games. Nine NFL teams cancelled their scheduled practices on Aug. 27, and several college football programs including Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Kentucky, South Florida, Boston College, Western Kentucky, Appalachian State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Baylor either cancelled practice or staged a walkout.
On July 30, Herman Cain, a onetime Republican presidential candidate and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, died from coronavirus at the age of 74.
As a co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, Cain was one of the surrogates at President Trump’s June 20 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma and posted a photo of himself, seated closely among other attendees without a facial covering. He was hospitalized for 4 weeks before succumbing to the illness.
On Aug. 28, fans across the globe were mourning the death of our first superhero, actor Chadwick Boseman, who died at age 43 after a four-year private battle with colon cancer. The Black Panther’s legacy will never be forgotten.
In September, veteran journalist Bob Woodward dropped a bomb on the Trump Administration and the world when he released tapes in which President Donald Trump admitted he had knowledge that the coronavirus was highly contagious and dangerous, but wanted to “downplay” it for Americans because he didn’t want to create a panic.
In an April 13 interview, Trump admitted to Woodward the virus is a “plague” that “rips you apart,” also telling Woodward that the virus is “so easily transmissible, you wouldn’t even believe it.”
Woodward was interviewing Trump for his now best-selling book “Rage,” in which Trump discussed the dangers of the coronavirus, saying as early as February 7 that the disease is “deadly stuff.”
Also during the interview, Trump told Woodward a story about a meeting of about 10 people in the Oval Office where someone in the room sneezed. Trump said everyone in the room ran out of the office, including him.
“It moves rapidly, Bob. It moves rapidly and viciously. If you’re the wrong person and if it gets you, your life is pretty much over if you’re in the wrong group,” Trump said.
This further added scrutiny that the president failed to protect the people, because if, instead of playing down what he knew in early February, Trump could have acted decisively with a strict shutdown and a consistent message to wear masks, social distance and wash hands, possibly saving tens of thousands of American lives.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was revered by millions as a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Sept. 18 from complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas. Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87.
On Oct. 11, the 2020 NBA Finals gave fans a much-needed distraction from COVID-19. Nearly nine months after Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat 4–2, winning their first NBA championship in 10 years. In this best-of-seven playoff series, it was the franchise’s 17th title, tying the Boston Celtics for the most in league history.
The Lakers’ LeBron James was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the fourth time in his career. He became the first player in league history to be named Finals MVP with three different franchises (two with the Heat, one with the Cleveland Cavaliers and one with the Lakers) and along with teammate Danny Green, jointly the third players to win the NBA Finals with three different teams. Lakers president Jeanie Buss became the first female controlling owner to guide her team to an NBA title.
The year of 2020 has been the largest wildfire season recorded in California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
On March 22, a state of emergency was declared by California Governor Gavin Newsom due to a mass die-off of trees throughout the state, potentially increasing the risk of wildfires.
As of December 24, 2020, over 9,639 fires have burned 4,359,517 acres, more than 4% of the state’s roughly 100 million acres of land, though roughly equivalent to the pre-1800 levels which averaged around 4.4 million acres yearly and up to 12 million in peak years.
HISTORIC HURRICANE SEASON 2020
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active and the seventh costliest Atlantic hurricane season on record. In addition, it was the fifth consecutive above average Atlantic hurricane season from 2016 onward. The season officially started on June 1 and officially ended on November 30. However, storm formation is possible at any time of the year, as demonstrated in 2020 by the early formation of Tropical Storms Arthur and Bertha, on May 16 and 27, respectively. The season featured a total of 31 (sub)tropical cyclones, all but one of which became a named storm. Of the 30 named storms, 13 developed into hurricanes, and six further intensified into major hurricanes, with one, Hurricane Iota, attaining Category 5 strength. 2020 was the second season to use the Greek letter storm naming system, the first being 2005. Of the 30 named storms, 12 of them made landfall in the contiguous United States, breaking the record of nine set in 1916. The season was also the fifth consecutive season in which at least one Category 5 hurricane formed. During the season, 27 tropical storms established a new record for the earliest formation by storm number. This season also featured a record 10 tropical cyclones that underwent rapid intensification, tying it with 1995.
MLB RECOGNIZES NEGRO LEAGUES
In an attempt to right the wrongs of past racial inequality, Major League Baseball (MLB) added players from the Negro Leagues to its official records in December. This decision was long overdue and Black baseball players are finally getting the “recorded” recognition they deserve, in comparison to white athletes whom many of the Negro players – like Willie Mays, Josh Gibson, Leon Day and Satchel Paige – top in statistics.
As the year drew to a close, the world breathed a collective (and cautiously optimistic) sigh of relief as both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were developed and approved, both with a nearly 95 % efficacy rate. Millions of the vaccines were shipped around the world with a Black registered nurse, Sandra Lindsay of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, becoming the very person in America to be vaccinated, and Robert Luckey, a Black registered nurse who works in the Memorial Hermann COVID-19 ICU in the Texas Medical Center, becoming the first to get vaccinated in Houston.
TRUMP ENDS ON A SOUR NOTE
President Donald Trump has been the gift that keeps on giving for his closest friends, business associates and in-laws as he pardoned several of them, along with nearly two dozen others, during his “lame duck” period. The president issued pardons for longtime ally Roger Stone, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Charles Kushner — the father of Trump’s son -in -law and White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner. More than 20 other individuals were pardoned, including those who had pleaded guilty to various cyber-crimes, firearm possession and mail fraud. The president also commuted the sentences of three other offenders.
In addition to this, Trump has shockingly tried to ruin Democracy as we know it, challenging election results and is seemingly hell bent on starving out America, sabotaging the stimulus packages and much-needed unemployment benefits for Americans.