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Before Rosa Parks, there was Viola Desmond. She's the new face of Canada's $10 bill.

70 years after taking a defiant stance, Desmond's getting the recognition she deserves.

Before Rosa Parks, there was Viola Desmond. She's the new face of Canada's $10 bill.

Nearly a decade before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, there was Canadian civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond.

In 1946, Desmond, a Canadian businesswoman, was arrested and fined after she refused to leave the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia movie theater. Her arrest and the legal battle that followed played a key role in Canada's civil rights movement.

Viola Desmond. Photo by Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University/Wanda Robson Collection.


70 years after taking a stand against segregation, Desmond is making history once again as the first woman — who isn't a queen or princess — to appear on Canadian money.

On Thursday, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz announced that Desmond will be featured on the $10 bill beginning in 2018.

"As governor of the bank, I have long believed that it was time for a woman, in addition to Her Majesty, to be on one of Canada’s bank notes," he said during a ceremony. "And we also heard from Canadians who told us that it was long overdue."

(From left) Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, Minister of Status of Women Patricia Hajdu, Wanda Robson (Desmond's sister), and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau unveil an image of Viola Desmond on Dec. 8, 2016. Photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Treasury announced some changes of its own, with plans to put Harriet Tubman on the $20.

In April, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced changes to the $5, $10, and $20 bills. The most notable change had Andrew Jackson getting bumped from the front of the $20 to make room for Tubman, abolitionist and "conductor" of the Underground Railroad. Jackson would still appear on the bill, albeit on the back. But for the first time in U.S. history, a black woman would appear on paper currency.

While women have been featured on U.S. money in the past — Martha Washington briefly appeared on the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century, Pocahontas appeared as part of a group on the back of the $20 bill in 1865, and Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea have appeared on $1 coins — Tubman's spot on the $20 adds some much-needed diversity to the currency.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew visits the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Photo by Chris Taylor, Department of Treasury.

Frustratingly, it's possible that the Tubman $20 bill won't actually happen because of President-elect Donald Trump's resistance to anything he sees as "politically correct."

During an April interview, Trump voiced opposition to inclusion of Tubman on the $20 bill, calling it "pure political correctness," a theme he railed against during his campaign for president.

"Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it's very rough when you take somebody off the bill," Trump said on the "Today" show. "I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, but I would love to leave Andrew Jackson or see if we can maybe come up with another denomination."

Advocates for the Tubman $20 bills are concerned that Trump's Treasury Department may try to change course ahead of plans to unveil the new design in 2020. For now, though, she's still slated to make her monetary debut.

The important thing to remember is the role that women like Desmond, Parks, and Tubman have played in making the world a better, more just place.

Whether it's Tubman's fight against slavery or Parks' and Desmond's battles against segregation, these women are beacons of progress in a world that wanted nothing more than to see them fail. It's important that we continue to recognize them for the work they did and the sacrifices they made.

Whether that recognition takes the form of a spot on a $10 or $20 bill, a stamp, or simply prominent positions in history books and lectures, these women remind us that a better world is worth fighting for, even if that fight is not immediately vindicated.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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