2020 Textbook Page

Civil Unrest Continued as the United States Fell Into a Pandemic

 

YEARS OF DIVISION

In his inauguration address on January 20, 2021, 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden said, “Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now,” regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and political division.

 

VIRUS PARALYZES GLOBAL POPULATION

On January 6, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) sounded the global alarm regarding the first pneumonia-like case of a virus in Wuhan, China. “Including the occupation, location and symptom profile of the people affected – pointed to a coronavirus (CoV) as a possible pathogen causing this cluster,” the WHO said. With the help of China’s technologically advanced hospital system, the country was able to keep the new COVID-19 virus contained for a matter of months before it reached any other locations. 

In a White House meeting addressing COVID-19 concerns on February 27, 2020, President Donald Trump said, “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” Months later, the world remained paralyzed by the pandemic. By April 2021, the United States alone had a total of 565,613 deaths from COVID-19 since the first case in January 2020. 

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP IMPEACHED FOR ABUSE OF POWER AND OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS 

On January 16, 2020, the articles of impeachment against President Trump were formally accepted by the Senate. This action would commence the third impeachment trial of any president. President Trump was on trial for high crimes and misdemeanors, but was later acquitted on February 5, 2020. After accusations of inciting the Capitol Hill insurrection on January 6, he was also tried on the same charges on February 9, 2021, and was acquitted once again.

 

BELOVED BASKETBALL ICON KILLED IN HELICOPTER CRASH

Tragedy struck in the United States as basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died along with seven other victims in a catastrophic helicopter accident on Sunday, January 26, 2020. This event shattered the hearts of Americans who admired Kobe Bryant’s impact on the world of sports. Mid-flight to Gianna’s basketball game, the helicopter experienced technical difficulties and landed fatally in Calabasas, California. Many stars, such as fellow Lakers Lebron James and Anthony Davis, paid their respects to the Bryant family.

 

#METOO MOVEMENT CREATES NATIONWIDE UPHEAVAL

On March 11, 2020, Judge James Burke sentenced American film producer Harvey Weinstein to 23 years in prison after he was found guilty of 11 counts of sexual assault in addition to other charges, including rape. The sexual assault survivors refused to be silent, and made their stories known. “Their words took down a predator and put him behind bars and gave hope to survivors of sexual violence all across the world,” said Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., in a statement released shortly after Weinstein’s conviction. The #MeToo, a viral movement that began when Harvey Weinstein was first accused in Oct. 2017, gained more force and attention after Weinstein’s sentence in 2020. 

 

ANGER RISES AS CIVIL CONFLICT CONTINUES

Events began to shift from COVID-19 concerns to civil uprising when George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020. This murder, as well as the murders of many others like, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor fueled a summer of civil upset in the United States. Protests in the streets for racial justice became a daily occurrence, as many claimed that the U.S. justice system had failed miserably at safe policing. Events displaying civil unrest continue as President Trump addresses the world in a Save America rally.

“If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” President Trump said in his speech.

Just moments after President Trump’s speech concluded, thousands of angry Americans stormed the US capitol building. Many were injured by police force in this violent attack. After the insurrection took place, President Trump was put on trial once again, but was acquitted after just four days. Tension accumulated between many marginalized communities and the police force, arguably to the highest point of intensity in U.S. history. 

 

US MOURNS THE LOSS OF JUSTICE OF SUPREME COURT

On September 18, 2020, citizens across the United States mourned the loss of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg was nominated to be a Supreme Court Justice by President Clinton and took her seat on the bench on August 10, 1993. She was the second woman to serve as a member of the Supreme Court. Bader Ginsburg was beloved and admired by many as a powerful advocate for women’s rights, same-sex marriage, and gender equality. 

 

2020 ELECTION RECORDS UNPRECEDENTED VOTING NUMBERS

After months of campaigning against one-term president Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris reigned victorious after one of the most influential presidential races in American history. Holding 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232, President Biden managed to flip several unpredictable swing states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. A record breaking number of voters attended polls, casting a total of 81 million votes for the Biden-Harris ticket and 74 million for the Trump-Pence ticket.

 

JOE BIDEN AND KAMALA HARRIS ELECTED TO OFFICE

On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. President Biden and Vice President Harris delivered speeches to a divided country after winning the 2020 election. Vice President Harris became the first female and Black person in an American vice-presidential office, symbolizing increasing representation of marginalized groups in official positions. 

 

NEW HOPE PREVAILS AS COVID-19 VACCINE GAINS TRACTION

As the COVID-19 pandemic surged across the world, the United States gained new headway in their fight against the virus under the Biden administration; vaccine distribution. The first shot was given to a New York nurse who fought on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. Before the first vaccine was administered, a trial occurred for 10 weeks as 70,000 people received either the vaccine or a placebo and were monitored for reactions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 28.5 percent of the US population were vaccinated as of April 25, 2021. The vaccine was the strongest headway that the world had seen against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While many events contributed to the years of division, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to one of the most tumultuous years in US history. In years to follow, many will look back on 2020 and 2021 as a time that brought both crisis and unity to our nation.

KEY TERMS

  •  impeachment- a charge made against the holder of a public office.
  • Tumultuous- an upheaval, causing distress or discomfort
  • COVID-19- a virus with an unknown origin with the current strain.
  • Electoral College- a body of electors who represent the United States.
  • High crimes and misdemeanors- a term used to cover the misconduct by government officials.
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