Back to the Future: 1919 — Mistakes Were Made

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Marty: Hey Doc, 2020 sucks! Lets fire up the Delorean and go back in time?
Doc: Sure, Marty! Im not doing much of anything these days. The job market is hard for an independent inventor/scientist in 2020. Nobody has money to buy trinkets from me. What year would you like to visit?
Marty: I don’t care any year has to be better than 2020! Well, lets not visit Nazi Germany or the Civil War but I’m fine with anything else.
Doc: Ok Marty, how about we let the time machine randomly decide?
Marty: I’m more than ok with that, I’m just tired of being quarantined lets travel!
Dust off and start the Delorean computer picks 1919.
Doc: Hmm, 1919 interesting…
Marty: Whatever it has to be better than 2020.
Delorean takes off and goes back in time to 1919
New York City April 1919
Marty: Wait, why is everyone wearing Masks? I thought we left 2020?
Doc: We did leave 2020, but we’re currently in the midst of the Spanish Flu pandemic.
Marty: Spanish Flu? I thought it happened in 1918?
Doc: Look at you Marty knowing some history I’m proud of you. The Spanish Flu Pandemic started in 1918, but what we are witnessing is the third wave of the Pandemic.
Marty: Third wave? How many waves were there? On the third wave, like 16 people die, right? It’s nowhere near as deadly as the first wave, right?
Doc: There were four waves of the Spanish Flu Pandemic Marty. The Pandemic lasted from 1918 to 1920. And on the Contrary Marty, the third wave was more deadly than the first wave but less deadly than the second wave. Tens of thousands of people died in the United States from the Spanish Flu in 1919.
Marty: So all the people acting like Covid 19 is over in 2020, are highly mistaken?
Doc: Very highly mistaken Marty, we don’t know how many waves of Covid 19 we will be facing.
Marty: Thanks for being a Debbie Downer Doc, lets go a few months ahead in time and a different city, say Chicago?
Doc: Sure thing Marty, lets roll.
Fires up Delorean, lands in Chicago 29, 1919
Background: Buildings on fire, people rioting
Marty: OMG! What’s going on here? I thought we left this back in 2020?
Doc: Actually Marty, we are amid the Red Summer of 1919. What we’re watching is the Chicago race riot of 1919.
Marty: Red Summer, what’s that?
Doc: Actually, summer is a misnomer. Red… ugh Summer was a series of race riots that spanned the entire year of 1919 from January into December. The riots broke out all over the United States during various periods of 1919.
Marty: What caused these riots? Police brutality?
Doc: Something much worse and at the core of most riots in the United States, Marty, Racism and Inequality. 38 people (23 blacks and 15 whites) will die during these riots, 527 people were injured and 1,000 black families left homeless.
Marty: Man, 1919 sucks as much as 2020! Lets go to D.C. who’s in the White House?
Doc: Woodrow Wilson
Marty: Oh, he’s a Democrat, right? He’s cool, he can’t be as bad as Trump!
Doc: Yes Marty, he’s a Democrat. But, under his Presidency, segregation of Federal Government facilities grew. He screened the movie “Birth of a Nation” at the White House. His administration made the same mistakes Trump’s administration did in handling the Spanish Flu Pandemic. That is, inactivity and lying and denying the true harm and costs of the pandemic. Given all that Marty, he was a much better President than Trump.
Marty: Birth of a Nation, what’s that?
Doc: Birth of a Nation is a film that glorified the Ku Klux Klan and portrayed African Americans as uncouth and uncivilized.
Marty: Oh God, really?
Doc: Yes Marty, though unlike Trump, Wilson issued a statement after the screening saying he was unaware of the premise of the movie, and never expressed approval of the movie. He stated he only screened it as a courtesy to an old friend.
Marty: Yeah, Trump would have doubled down on the screening and would have said it was “Fake News” from the press and protestors for calling the movie racist. Then he would try to belittle the press and protestors.
Marty: Doc, lets go back to 2020, it sucks but at least I have YouTube and Netflix to numb the pain. All we have in 1919 is black and white silent films.
Marty: Doc, did you know 1919 sucked this bad? And if so, why did you let us come here?
Doc: I did Marty, but I wanted to show you things can always be worse and that there is nothing new under the sun. Everything mankind faces they have faced in some shape or form in the past.
Doc: There were some wonderful things in 1919 Marty, Women finally get the right to vote and Prohibition… Er yeah Women got the right to vote.
Marty: Doc! before we went back in time I got an email from Netflix about a new season of Tiger King! Lets go back home.
Doc: Sure Marty, Lets Roll.

Originally published at on June 12, 2020.

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recovering Lawyer, History buff who wants to share my knowledge with the world . To teach them lessons from our past. see all of the stories on

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