He used to carry out the death penalty. This is why he totally changed his mind.

Semon Frank Thompson filled a syringe with water, knowing — if this weren't just a job training — he'd be moments away from killing someone.

"I can remember this feeling," he explains of his time working in an Oregon prison. "Like, this just doesn’t make sense.”

At the time, Thompson believed in the death penalty. As a young black man growing up in the segregated South, he remembered the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, a black teenager who was murdered at the hands of white supremacists for daring to flirt with a white woman.


Thompson, like many in his community, wanted justice for Till's killers. And capital punishment seemed like the only way to achieve it.

A photo of Emmett Till on the plaque that marks his grave in Illinois. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Years later — as the superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, filling up that syringe during a training session on lethal injection — Thompson found himself in charge of death.

Administering death sentences was part of his job description.

As superintendent, Thompson was trained to carry out capital punishment at the facility. In his time there, he only carried out two death sentences, but it was enough to change his mind about the procedure forever.

For Thompson, abolishing the death penalty isn't just the moral thing to do — it will prevent further injustice from unfolding.

Most people on death row have done horrific things and committed unspeakable crimes. But to Thompson, who now travels across the country speaking out against the death penalty from his unique perspective, capital punishment fails to make our communities any safer. And evidence backs him up.

Research has yet to find any substantial data suggesting the death penalty deters crime, a 2014 report from The Washington Post noted. In fact, violent crime has generally fallen since 1990, even as more states have implemented bans and placed moratoriums on the death penalty.

On the other hand, the death penalty has certainly taken innocent lives. In the U.S., more than 150 people have been exonerated while on death row since 1976. In that time, a staggering 1,400 people have been executed. It makes you wonder: How many people of those 1,400 were innocent?

“There’s a surreal feeling about sitting down and looking at a human being and talking to them about what I plan to do to them," he said. "I realized that I — at my very, very core — felt that the death penalty was wrong.”

Watch Thompson's story about how his time working at the Oregon State Penitentiary inspired him to devote his life to saving others':

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

In a year when the U.S. saw the largest protest movement in history in support of Black lives, when people of color have experienced disproportionate outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic, and when Black voters showed up in droves to flip two Senate seats in Georgia, Joe Biden entered the White House with a mandate to address the issue of racial equity in a meaningful way.

Not that it took any of those things to make racial issues in America real. White supremacy has undergirded laws, policies, and practices throughout our nation's history, and the ongoing impacts of that history are seen and felt widely by various racial and ethnic groups in America in various ways.

Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

- address criminal justice, starting by ending federal contracts with for-profit prisons

- strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native American tribes and Alaskan natives

- combat xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

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A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

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via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

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