Mississippi State player proudly waves the state's new Confederate-free flag on game day
via WLBT / Twitter

When Mississippi State ran onto the field on Saturday in a game versus Vanderbilt they did so while proudly waving the state's new flag. On Election Day, 68% of Mississippi voters approved "The New Magnolia" by graphic designer Rocky Vaughan to be the state's new official symbol.

The flag replaces a 126-year-old banner that incorporated a version of the Confederate battle flag.

Senior defensive end Kobe Jones, a native of Starkville, Mississippi, carried the flag to lead his team on the field. "I was very proud to finally get to wave a flag that unites all Mississippians," Jones said after the game. "That was a huge moment for me and the whole state."



The moment was perfectly encapsulated by Shaun King on Instagram. "Today, a Black player for Mississippi State ran onto the field with their BRAND NEW FLAG, without having to compromise his integrity," he captioned a photo of Jones.


Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill was instrumental in pushing the state to change its outdated banner that paid homage to a movement rooted in slavery. "Either change the flag or I won't be representing this State anymore & I meant that .. I'm tired," Hill tweeted in June.

Hill responded to critics by sharing his own experience living under the Confederate banner. "Unlike rest I was born in this state and I (know) what the flag mean," he tweeted."

Hill opted out of this season after his second game due to an injury. He hopes to be a top pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Lawmakers in Mississippi passed a bill in June to retire the old flag in favor of one that isn't blatantly racist. "This is not a political moment to me but a solemn occasion to lead Mississippi's family to come together, to be reconciled and move on," Governor Tate Reeves said after signing the bill.

After the state ditched its old flag, it received over 3,000 submissions for a new design. The only prerequisites being it must read "In God We Trust" and be free of any Confederate imagery.

The design that eventually won features a magnolia in its center surrounded by twenty stars. The stars symbolize Mississippi's history as the twentieth state admitted to the union. The flower is "a symbol long-used to represent our state and the hospitality of our citizens," the Mississippi Department of Archives and History said.

That's a far cry from the previous flag which featured a symbol of bigotry and oppression.

Election Day was surreal for Vaughan, who couldn't believe his design was approved by such a margin. "My phone was blowing up," Vaughn said according to WTVA. "Watching the numbers just kept rising and I was like 'wow, this is gonna happen,'" Vaughan explained.

Vaughn believes his flag received overwhelming support because of its attractive design. "It looks good," said Vaughan. "It looks great, and I knew if it was pleasing to the eyes it would be more acceptable and an easier transition."

"Every time I see it, I'm, I know I'm going to just stop and stare for a little bit and be thankful," he added.

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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via The Walt Disney Company / Flickr

One of the ways to tell if you're in a healthy relationship is whether you and your partner are free to talk about other people you find attractive. For many couples, bringing up such a sensitive topic can cause some major jealousy.

Of course, there's a healthy way to approach such a potentially dangerous topic.

Telling your partner you find someone else attractive shouldn't be about making them feel jealous. It's probably also best that if you're attracted to a coworker, friend, or their sibling, that you keep it to yourself.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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