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Jamee McAdoo "Top Five Worst Things to Happen in 2020"

Updated: May 24, 2022

Jamee McAdoo, a sophomore journalism and media studies major at Jackson State University, reflects on the year 2020, addressing what she sees as the top five most catastrophic events.

"Top Five Worst Things to Happen in 2020"

The year 2020 truly has been “one for the books.” Like many, I started my year with a positive mindset, excited for what this monumental year would bring. My fathers’ phrase “the year of vision” kept replaying in my mind as I made my New Year's resolutions. Having just gotten through many personal problems, I was looking forward to 2020 to reset. A reset is exactly what happened… for the whole world.

When we hear the word “apocalypse,” we think of the end of times. We think of complete destruction of the world. However, its origin definition could suggest it means a revelation. That which is uncovered. To reveal truths.

Numerous shocking and devastating events have occurred in 2020, but each, in its own way, has revealed some truth about the world we live in. This year’s disasters have been boundless, but five of them top my list.

Here’s my countdown:

In fifth place on my list of 2020’s top five catastrophes, we have: World War III. Now we know a third world war didn’t literally take place, but after Trump launched a drone strike killing Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani, many of us wondered what could come next. According to Express News, President Trump was asked how close the U.S. came to going to war with Iran while he was having a conversation with talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The question received a chilling answer, as the U.S. President replied: “closer than you thought.”

The fourth worst thing to happen in 2020 has to be all of the natural disasters. Australia bushfires covered every single Australian state with 15,000 reported fires total, according to CNN. Nearly three billion animals were killed or displaced by Australia's bushfires, and this was the worst fire season on record. Videos of Lebanon explosions quickly went viral when a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, exploded, causing at least 204 deaths and 6,500 injuries, leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless in August of 2020, according to USA Today. The Saharan dust storm, Hurricane Laura, and floods devastating Africa and Asia have all shaken areas of the world in 2020, reminding us that, at times, we are all fragile human beings, and despite our best efforts, the Earth is not 100% controllable.

The third worst thing to happen in 2020, on my list, are all of the celebrity deaths we’ve seen. NBA star, Kobe Bryant, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died alongside eight others in a fatal plane crash. Loads of fake news made this reality harder to accept initially. In July, Naya Rivera drowned in Lake Piru, leaving fans and supporters heartbroken. Civil rights activist John Lewis passed away due to cancer. His legacy is inspiration to create “good trouble” and to stand up for what’s right. The celebrity passing that hit me the most was Chadwick Boseman. He was more than Black Panther. He was an icon, a positive representation, and a display of Black excellence. To find out that he was fighting cancer for years during filming really touched me. We lost many more people this year, and the lives lost reinforced the idea that everyone has to die, and that it’s important to make your life count.

The second worst part of 2020, for me, was the killing of George Floyd and the intensified international Black Lives Matter protests that followed. To watch a man that could be my brother, my father, my uncle, my cousin, or my grandfather getting attacked by police… struggling to breathe… articulating his fears and begging for his life (and his mother) ... did something to my soul this year that nothing else compared to. The racism and injustice proven through news and social media this year quite literally broke my heart.

Overall, the icing on the cake that made 2020 the year it was, was COVID-19. The coronavirus came and changed all of our lives, and it’s not gone yet. Our President’s way of dealing with it (by not…) has made the United States one of the overarching worst places of COVID-19 outbreaks. With virtual learning for students, store and business closings, and event cancellations, COVID-19 took complete control over the year 2020, forcing those who care to self-quarantine and evaluate themselves and the world at large.

Additional headlines caught national attention like: killer hornets, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry renouncing their royalty, Mississippi retiring the confederate flag, plus many more, but they don’t even scratch the surface of the impact of the 5 topics listed. Trump's actions, horrible natural disasters, unexpected deaths, protests and riots, and the spread of COVID-19 have completely shaped this year. Here’s to 2021.


Bradley, C. (2020, February 17). “World War 3: Trump’s Chilling Iran Conflict

Elbeshbishi, S. and al-Faour, N. (2020, August 6).“Beirut Explosion Left 300,000 Homeless, Caused up to $15 Billion in Damage”. USA Today. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from

Yeung, J. (2020, January 13). “Australia's Deadly Wildfires Are Showing No Signs of Stopping. Here's what you need to know”. CNN. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from


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