MLK's daughter shared a powerful message about how people react to these two photos

When Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem at the beginning of NFL games, many Americans railed against him. They called him un-American. They called him disrespectful. They failed to see his peaceful protest against racial injustice and police brutality as the act of a patriot yearning to improve his country, choosing to focus on their own discomfort with his actions instead.

This Monday, a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the back and neck of a black man, George Floyd, who had just been taken into police custody. According to CBS News, he was a forgery suspect, and as the officer held him to the ground, video taken by bystanders shows Floyd repeatedly crying out that he couldn't breathe.

"My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts ..." he can be heard saying in the video. "(I need) water or something. Please. Please. I can't breathe, officer. I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe."


Floyd stopped moving. The bystanders continually asked the officer why he kept kneeling on the man's neck and chest. At one point, he knelt with his hands in his pockets while Floyd lay beneath his legs. It's incredibly disturbing to watch, considering that Floyd was pronounced dead at the hospital the same evening.

People are understandably outraged. The FBI is now investigating the incident and the four officers involved have been fired. Hopefully, justice will prevail—though even if it does, it won't bring back this man's life.

But this is not a lone case. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. posted a striking photo combo of the officer kneeling on Floyd on one side and Kaepernick kneeling on the sidelines, writing on Twitter:

"If you're unbothered or mildly bothered by the 1st knee, but outraged by the 2nd, then, in my father's words, you're 'more devoted to order than to justice.' And more passionate about an anthem that supposedly symbolizes freedom than you are about a Black man's freedom to live."

The reason for the kneeling on the right is the same kneeling on the left. It's not just a matter of police simply killing black people—it's the dehumanization and devaluing of black lives in our justice system overall. It's the straight line one can draw from a white woman wielding her racist power to call the police—telling them "an African-American man is threatening my life" when a birdwatcher simply asked her to put a leash on her dog per the rules—to the death of an unarmed black man in the hands of law enforcement.

It's the history of vigilante "justice" that makes white men think they have the right to stop a jogger in the middle of the street and question him at gunpoint and then kill him when he tries to defend himself.

It's the inability of a black man to calmly inform an officer that he has a legal, concealed carry weapon without getting shot in his car in front of his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter.

It's the inability of a black man to exercise his second amendment right and defend his loved ones and property without having his girlfriend shot eight times and killed in her own bed.

It's story after story of automatic suspicion of wrongdoing, presumption of criminality and assumption of guilt of a black person in a police encounter. It's also the lack of accountability and killing with impunity for law enforcement officers that happens far too often.

This is why distrust of the police exists. This is why kneeling protests exist. This is why Black Lives Matter exists.

A police officer can sit with his hands in his pockets while a black man begs for breath beneath his knee while no one with any power in the situation does anything to stop it. This is why Kap knelt. This is why, no matter what you feel about the anthem, he wasn't wrong to do so.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

via Jules Lipoff / Twitter

Weronika Jachimowicz, 17, is getting a lot of attention for subverting people's expectations of who excels in high school. And that's exactly what she wants.

Jachimowicz was named New York's Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District's 2021 salutatorian. Her yearbook photo next to valedictorian Luke Altman is going viral because of her dramatic Goth makeup and attire.

It all started when assistant professor and writer Dr. Jules Lipoff tweeted out a photo of the valedictorian and salutatorian he saw in a newspaper and it went viral. How many salutatorians have you seen that wear pentagram hoop earrings, a choker, and black devil horns?

The juxtaposition of her next to the bowtie-wearing Altman, makes the photo even more amusing.

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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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