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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Arnold Ford shares a birthday—and birthday joy—with one of his students.

When Arnold Ford went to work on his birthday in February of 2024, he knew he was in for a treat. One of his students, a girl named Cali, has the same birthday as he does, and Ford was ready.

As soon as he saw Cali come bounding down the hallway with her arms spread wide, the assistant principal tossed his backpack aside, swooped the girl up and spun her around in joyful celebration. Then the two raced down the hallway, arm in arm, so Cali could give him a balloon and a cupcake she had saved for him.

All of this was captured on the security cameras at west Philadelphia's Mastery Charter School, Mann Elementary, and the footage has people cheering for amazing educators.


"I’m so grateful to God for allowing me to see another year," Ford wrote when he shared the video on his Instagram page. "I’m even more grateful that LOVE continues to be the centerpiece of my entire life."

"And… as you can see… I’m also grateful that I get to share a birthday with one of my favorite students," he continued. "And yes… she brought me a balloon and a cupcake, and in exchange, I told her she could dress down today. Fair trade if you ask me!

Watch:

People are gushing over the exchange in the comments.

"Do y'all teach 25th grade!? I need an elementary school experience do-over!" wrote one person.

"Bro my own parents never been that happy to see me 😭," wrote another.

"Can you imagine marinating in that love on a daily basis? What a gift this man is!" shared another.

Several people pointed out that no one else in the video so much as blinked, which is a testament to the fact that this wasn't out of the ordinary. Clearly, Mr. Ford brings this energy to work every day.

"I think it’s important for us to celebrate WITH our students and families," Ford tells Upworthy. "[Cali's] birthday is a big deal to her, and so is mine. We talk about it ALL year. So when that day came, what you saw was just a natural, genuine reaction that we both had. She was excited to be celebrating me, and I was excited to be celebrating her."

Educators like Ford can make such an enormous difference in children's lives, transforming a school into a place filled with positive interactions where kids know people genuinely care about and enjoy being around them. That's what Ford loves about his job as well.

"It really is the reciprocal nature of the work," he tells Upworthy. "We get so much more than we ever put out. Love. Joy. Laughter. The more we sow those things, we see them return exponentially in this work. That’s why when I often say 'Love is the curriculum,' it’s because I recognize how blessed I am to be able to put positivity and joy at the center of my experience with them. It’s humbling."

"In other words, I love that I don’t have to wait until Fridays to get paid." he adds.

Here's to Mr. Ford and all of the dedicated, incredible educators out there who pour their love into helping children learn and grow and thrive. They really do deserve all the balloons and cupcakes—and all the pay raises as well.

You can follow Arnold Ford on Instagram.


This article originally appeared on 4.7.24

Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.


The year was 1988. Seventy-two thousand people gathered—along with 600 million more watching along on their televisions—to see headliner Stevie Wonder as part of Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday tribute concert.

However, technical difficulties (or perhaps some divine timing) rendered Wonder unable to perform his act. Chapman had already played a three-song set earlier in the afternoon, and yet she agreed to step up to the microphone.

Armed with nothing but herself and a guitar, the shy and stoic Chapman captivated everyone to silence. And the rest is history.

Watch:

Using just a simple story, “Fast Car” conveyed a million different themes—the challenges of class and poverty, seeking escape from a small town and yearning for freedom and new opportunity. It’s easy to see why some find the song heartbreaking, while others find it hopeful.

After the Mandela gig, the song became a worldwide hit, earning Chapman Grammy awards and shooting her to stardom. What’s more, she introduced a new wave of socially-conscious music filled with gentle, yet brutally truthful introspection. Since that fateful day, her name is forever synonymous with a quiet revolution. We are quite lucky to get to experience it so many years later.


This article originally appeared on 2.2.23

When the attack on Pearl Harbor began, Doris "Dorie" Miller was working laundry duty on the USS West Virginia.

He'd enlisted in the Navy at age 19 to explore life outside of Waco, Texas, and to make some extra money for his family. But the Navy was segregated at the time, so Miller, an African-American, and other sailors of color like him weren't allowed to serve in combat positions. Instead, they worked as cooks, stewards, cabin boys, and mess attendants. They received no weapons training and were prohibited from firing guns.


As the first torpedoes fell, Dorie Miller had an impossible choice: follow the rules or help defend the ship?

For Miller, the choice was obvious.

Pearl Harbor attack

USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee surrounded in smoke and flames following the surprise attack by Japanese forces.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archive and Records Administration.

First, he reportedly carried wounded sailors to safety, including his own captain. But there was more to be done.

In the heat of the aerial attack, Miller saw an abandoned Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun on deck and immediately decided to fly in the face of segregation and military rules to help defend his ship and country.

Though he had no training, he manned the weapon and shot at the enemy aircraft until his gun ran out of ammunition, potentially downing as many as six Japanese planes. In the melee, even Miller himself didn't know his effort was successful.

"It wasn't hard," he said after the battle. "I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about 15 minutes. I think I got one of those [Japanese] planes. They were diving pretty close to us."

attack on Pearl Harbor

A cartoon memorializing the attack on Pearl Harbor

Image courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Original newspaper reports heralded a hero "Negro messman" at Pearl Harbor, but no one knew who Miller was.

The Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American paper in wide circulation, sent a reporter to track down and identify the brave sailor, but it took months of digging to uncover the messman's identity.

Eventually, Miller was identified. He was called a hero by Americans of all stripes and colors. He appeared on radio shows and became a celebrity in his own right.

Pearl Harbor hero

Doris "Dorie" Miller.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Miller's heroism and bravery didn't go unnoticed in Washington, D.C., either.

In March 1942, Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, introduced a bill authorizing the president to present Miller with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Sen. James Mead introduced a similar measure in the Senate. While Miller did not receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, he became the first African-American sailor to receive the Navy Cross.

"This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race, and I'm sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts," said Pacific Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz following Miller's pinning ceremony.

Pearl Harbor hero U.S. Navy

Miller receiving the Navy Cross from Admiral Nimitz.

Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Following a brief tour of the country, giving speeches and pushing war bonds, Miller returned to Navy life.

In May 1943, Miller reported for duty on the Liscome Bay, an escort carrier.

Pearl Harbor World War II

The USS Liscome Bay prepares for action.

assets.rebelmouse.io

On Nov. 24, during Operation Galvanic, a Japanese torpedo struck the Liscome Bay, sinking the ship. 644 men were presumed dead. 272 survived. Miller did not.

On Dec. 7, 1943, two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Millers' parents received word of their son's death.

Doris "Dorie" Miller gave his life for a country that didn't always love him back.

Miller posthumously received a Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, and the World War II Victory Medal. There is also a frigate and a neighborhood on the U.S. Naval Base in Pearl Harbor named in his honor.

Though his Navy Cross was never elevated to a Congressional Medal of Honor, as recently as 2014, the Congressional Black Caucus moved to waive the statute of limitations to make it possible.

Pearl Harbor hero

Dorie Miller

Image courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administrations.

While there are medals, movies, and statues celebrating Miller, it's important to remember and honor the man himself — a 22-year-old black sailor who set aside the rules to do what's right.Poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote a poem from Miller's perspective, the conclusion of which perfectly captures the young hero's courage in the face of bigotry and uncertainty:Naturally, the important thing is, I helped to save them,them and a part of their democracy,Even if I had to kick their law into their teeth in order to do that for them.And I am feeling well and settled in myself because I believe it was a good job,Despite this possible horror: that they might prefer thePreservation of their law in all its sick dignity and their knivesTo the continuation of their creedAnd their lives.


This article originally appeared on 12.06.16

Becca Moore and Raul Torres having margaritas.

Becca Moore is a popular TikToker with over 800,000 followers who's known for her funny, laid-back takes on dating. Like any influencer-type she was at the Coachella music and arts festival in Indio, California recently. While she was at Coachella, she was robbed of her phone, rental car keys and wallet.

“I went to Coachella this weekend and I thought this guy was kinda hitting on me but then he just robbed me,” Becca says at the beginning of her three-minute TikTok video with over 3 million views. After the festival, she was left with no ride, money, or means to get in contact with friends and family. She was stranded in the desert.

Becca’s friend’s hotel called her an Uber so she could get to a local store to buy a new phone. The driver she was incredibly lucky to be connected with was a lot more than a guy with a car in a time of need, he was a guardian angel named Raul Torres from Fresno, California, six hours north of Indio.


“A normal Uber driver takes you to a place and then drops you off. He insisted on coming in with me and making sure that I was going to have a ride after that,” Becca said.

The store wasn’t able to get her a new phone because she didn’t have access to her current plan. But Raul wouldn’t give up, so he took her to the local police station where they were able to locate the Airbnb where the thief was staying. The police let them into the room and they searched it but couldn’t find the phone.

@becccamooore

the uber driver that saved me from going missing is @buds4u559!! 😭 after spending the day w him he told me his daughter is a senior in high school & is having a hard time going through chemo. i made a gofundme, he could’ve left me and didn’t have to help me the way he did! I’d love to help his fam give his daughter a normal end to her senior year of high school this year (prom!!) i’m putting it in my bio!!


After the big let-down, Becca and Raul decided to take a break from their quest and refresh their spirits with some margaritas, on Raul. “Just because he’s an angel on this Earth,” Becca said in her TikTok video.

While the two bonded over drinks, Raul told Becca his daughter had been battling cancer and that’s why he’s been working as an Uber driver. “He told me all he wants is for his daughter to have a normal end to her senior year, and to be able to go to big events like prom and graduation,” Becca said.

Raul also revealed that his father had cancer as well.

His revelations put Becca's troubles in perspective and made his decision to drop his driving for the day to help Becca all the more incredible.

@becccamooore

thank god he refused to leave me 😭 raul’s tiktok is @buds4u559. also you can donate to the fam in my bio!! thank you all for your donations and generosity. you today, me tomorrow!! #TipsForRaul

After the final slurps of their margaritas, Becca still wasn’t sure how she’d get home. But Raul wouldn’t give up. “We’re getting your phone,” he exclaimed. He drove her back to the thief’s Airbnb where she found the phone sitting on top of the outside gate. Becca believes the robber abandoned the phone after realizing the police were involved. Then, Raul helped Becca get a rental car so she could get home. Before saying their goodbyes, the two had spent eight hours together.

"Raul ended his Uber shift that morning to spend his day helping me, expecting nothing in return,” she said in her TikTok video. So she used her considerable audience to ask followers to help contribute to a GoFundMe page for Raul and his family. Over the first 4 days, the campaign has raised over $144,000.

"When I was in the car with him it seemed like we were both so focused on my situation. We were only talking about me getting a phone and like things that did not matter. And he completely glazed over the fact that his daughter and his dad were the ones that needed help," she admitted.

On Friday, April 29, Raul's dad passed away from cancer.

The story of Becca and Raul is a great reminder that no matter how big our troubles seem, it’s always important to put them in perspective.


This story originally appeared on 05.03.22