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black history month, martin luther king

Tweeted by the Smithsonian NMAAHC.

When Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, he was met by nearly 250,000 people. Traveling from all over the country to participate in the March on Washington, this crowd became part of one of the most iconic and pivotal moments in civil rights history.

Joining those thousands at the Lincoln Memorial was Ledger Smith, a 27-year-old athlete and entertainer who traveled all the way from Chicago … on roller skates.

Ledger’s story might be lesser known, but it’s an inspiring one.


As a semiprofessional skater, Smith, better known as “Roller Man,” was known for his impressive tricks.

Deciding to really put his skills to the test, Ledger skated 685 miles, from Chicago to Washington, D.C. … for 10 straight days. My legs are sore just thinking about it.

When a 1963 publication of the Baltimore Afro-American asked him why, Smith replied that it was “to dramatize the march,” adding that he “did it in the slowest way.”

To prepare for his journey, Smith ran 5 miles every day for two weeks prior. And after skating for 10 hours a day for a little over a week, he arrived having lost 10 pounds.

black heroes

"Roller Man" Ledger Smith.

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Wearing a freedom sign across his chest, Ledger helped spread inspiration along his route. He wasn’t always met with encouragement. At one point a man had tried to run him down with a car in Fort Wayne, Indiana, according to a radio interview with WAMU.

Still, Ledger was also met by well wishers. The Afro-American reported that many people along the highway, some of them white, wished Ledger good luck, saying that they’d see him in Washington.

Determination (and incredible stamina) overcame the obstacles. Because on Tuesday, Ledger arrived, “sore, aching, but hoping he was 700 miles closer to freedom,” according to the report.

Ledger met up with his wife—who decided to go the more traditional route and travel by train—along with celebrities, activists and protestors to take part in the massive March on Washington. The couple witnessed firsthand the words that would become a beacon of hope for the future, and an emblem of black resilience.

Following nine other speakers, King had only planned on being at the podium for four minutes. But when prompted by gospel star Mahalia Jackson to “tell ‘em about the dream,” he stood on stage and spoke for 16 minutes. Though the speech notably ties in themes from the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, Shakespeare and the Bible, its most famous section was completely improvised.

Full of poetry and vigor, King challenged his community to “not wallow in the valley of despair,” and painted the picture of “walking together as sisters and brothers,” where King called it his dream, but it was Ledger’s dream too, along with countless others who arrived that day.

Ledger’s journey to Washington powerfully symbolizes the great lengths that African Americans had endured, were enduring—and still are enduring—to attain equality. But for Ledger, and the thousands that joined him, no distance was too great, if the long road leads to “free at last.”

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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