5 American heroes you know, and the 5 ways they fought for freedom you might not know about.

What better way to celebrate good ol' American freedom than by honoring the people who helped shape the country we know and love (OK, at least know)?

Ah, 4th of July. Freedom is in the air.

Can you smell it? GIF from "The Colbert Report."


The U.S. has a rich history of separate movements that have worked together to create a better country for its citizens. But sometimes it seems we forget that these movements do not occur in silos; they're often intertwined — and even share some activists!

So, before you fire up your grill and share some drinks with family and friends, let's take a second to have a quick (but fun!) history lesson, shall we?

Here are five not-so-well-known causes that were supported by well-known freedom fighters:

1. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, but she was also an anti-rape advocate.


Image from the White House.

During her time as chapter secretary of the Montgomery, Alabama, NAACP, Rosa Parks served as an sexual crimes investigator and was heralded as one of the best. She continued to speak out and fight the systemic abuse of black women outside her role as well, helping black women find justice against white rapists in a time when justice was near impossible to get.

While we've come a long way, the fight against rape culture is still going strong. Check out some of the groups working to create a world free of sexual violence at the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

2. Helen Keller advocated for the rights of people with disabilities, but she also supported increased birth control access.

Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty.

The deaf and blind activist best known for her work in disability rights also supported a myriad of other causes. Many people don't know that she a passionate advocate for women's access to birth control. Or, to put it in her words, which are delightfully blunt:

"Only by taking the responsibility of birth control into their own hands can [women] roll back the awful tide of misery that is sweeping over them and their children."

#realtalk, amirite?

I can't believe that I'm writing this in 2015, but ... the fight for reproductive rights is still raging on. Check out these organizations that are carrying on the fight for increased access to birth control and comprehensive sex education: Advocates for Youth and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

3. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech, but he also focused on the importance of equal economic opportunity for all.

Image via Minnesota Historical Society/Flickr.

"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

Dr. King dreamed of a world where people of different races could coexist peacefully. But he also knew how having equal economic opportunity for all Americans is vital to creating a more just society.

If you want to get in on the action to increase economic opportunity for Americans, check out Jobs with Justice and the Center for American Progress Talk Poverty project.

4. Susan B. Anthony fought for women's suffrage, but she started out as a slavery abolitionist activist.

Image from History of Woman Suffrage/Wikimedia Commons

"Extend to him all the rights Citizenship. Let him vote and be voted for; let him sit upon the judge's bench, and in the juror's box. ... Let the North thus prove to the South, by her acts, that she fully recognizes the humanity of the black man."

Anthony grew up with parents who were active in the antislavery movement of the 1840s. She followed in her parents' footsteps when she became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. She also loved to write scathing op-eds denouncing lynchings and other racist acts against African-Americans in the local newspapers.

The fight for racial equality continues today, and it's far from over. Check out the Black Lives Matters movement (started by women, no less!) to see what you can do in the continued crusade for racial justice.

5. Cesar Chavez didn't only care about humans. He was also an avid animal rights supporter.

Image from Movimiento/Wikimedia Commons

"The basis for peace is respecting all creatures. We cannot hope to have peace until we respect everyone — respect ourselves and respect animals and all living things."

Chavez is best known for his leadership in the movement for farm workers' rights. But he also believed that the commitment to justice should include respect and love of animals. He really was about practicing what he preached: Chavez spent the last 25 years of his life not eating meat and even spent a few years as a vegan. Who knew?

If you're also all about helping our furry friends, definitely check out the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States.

Now go impress your friends at the BBQ this weekend with your impressive historical knowledge.

Happy 4th!

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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