On May 9th, the Rotary Club of Newport News was thrilled to host the distinguished historian and writer Mary Miley Theobald at our weekly meeting. Best known for her profound understanding of American history, Theobald has a rich academic career, including numerous published works and a teaching tenure at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Theobald’s presentation, aptly titled “Comparing the 1920s to the 2020s,” provided a riveting exploration of the parallels and contrasts between the two decades. A specialist in the Roaring Twenties, Theobald’s insight into this era is as profound as it is engaging.

The first significant point of comparison was the shift in societal views on prohibited substances, specifically, the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s versus marijuana prohibition today. Theobald skillfully highlighted the societal and legislative changes that have shaped our evolving perceptions of these substances.

Theobald also delved into the changing dynamics of the political landscape, drawing parallels between the rural versus urban divide of the 1920s and today. Her insights offered a refreshing perspective on our current political climate, shedding light on the recurring patterns in American history.

Finally, she tackled the disturbing issue of racial supremacy. She drew parallels between the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the resurgence of white supremacists today, offering an unflinching look at a dark aspect of our society that persists even after a century.

Theobald’s talk was a stark reminder that history often rhymes, and understanding our past is crucial for navigating our present and shaping our future. We sincerely thank Mary Miley Theobald for sharing her knowledge with our Rotary Club.