More

The Confederacy lost. This activist delivered their second-place trophy.

'That's my plan, to continue to go forward, being a person who stands up for what's right.'

The Confederacy lost. This activist delivered their second-place trophy.

Lifelong Arizona resident Rebecca Olsen McHood has had enough of her state's Confederate monuments and the bigotry they represent. So she did something about it.

In the wake of recent violent demonstrations over the monuments in other states, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis but refuses to remove Confederate monuments from public lands despite the fact that Arizona became a state 47 years after the Civil War.

"It’s important that people know our history," he told the press Aug. 14. "I don’t think we should try to hide our history."


McHood was outraged by President Donald Trump's Aug. 15 remarks about the violence in Charlottesville and Ducey's apathy. But she didn't let her anger paralyze her.

"When our president is coming out in support of Nazis and in support of white supremacists and when our local government is advancing these racist policies, this is a good time to say, 'Hold up here. What do you really stand for,'" she says.

Donald Trump photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images. Gov. Doug Ducey photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images for Leigh Steinberg.

Together with her friend Cynthia Lehigh, McHood turned one of Arizona's monuments into a larger-than-life participation trophy.

McHood crafted two paper banners that wouldn't look out of place at a child's birthday party, then Lehigh joined her for a trip from their homes in Gilbert, Arizona, to the state capital grounds in Phoenix on the evening of Aug. 15. Given all of the recent controversy and violent demonstrations to protect Confederate monuments, she worried she'd have to deal with crowds.

Instead, the structure was guarded by a single police officer, who watched as Lehigh and McHood started to tie their banners, which read "You lost, get over it," and "2nd place participant" to the structure, a humorous take on the popular participation trophy meme.

Photo by Cynthia Lehigh, used with permission.

The police officer asked the pair not to attach anything, so they set them down and took pictures, before heading over to a nearby rally in support of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

"I wondered if the officer would grab all the stuff and throw it in the trash," she says. "He left it there, and it was still there when we left."

Photo by Rebecca Olsen McHood, used with permission.

While McHood is not the first activist to target a Confederate monument, some may be surprised to learn she is white and a lifelong Republican.

However, McHood did not support Trump and is appalled by the bigotry and vitriol she's seeing as a result of his election. She thought about changing her party after the election but decided to stick it out after meeting some fellow Republicans while collecting signatures this summer in support of the state's public school system.

"Having been out and talking to those people and gathering those signatures, I know that there are good people in the Republican Party ... who care about equality, who care about education, who care about fiscal responsibility, who care that their neighbors have food to eat, and who care about social safety nets," she says.

Photo via Rebecca Olsen McHood.

As a white woman and Republican, McHood knows she has access other people may not, so she makes an effort to use her privilege for good.

McHood says she tries to use her access and position of relative safety to lift up voices that often go unheard.

"I know that I as a white, former Mormon, smiley, confident person, I just automatically have better access to government leaders and I have more safety than they have," she says. "Often, leaders will set meetings with me, and I will bring my friends who are in black- and brown-skinned bodies with me ... and I will pass the mic."

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Because we are all responsible for dismantling white supremacy.

This is not a left or right issue. White supremacy and white nationalism are poisons that infect and take hold in our communities, governments, and systems. Breaking that down, examining our bitter history, and making it right will take all of us, regardless of our identities or where we fall on the political spectrum.

It's a monumental task, but we're the ones we've been waiting for.

Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images.

The difference between a politician and a public servant may be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to getting legislation passed that actually helps people, the contrast is stark.

Texas Representative James Talarico is on a mission to get his constituents the life-saving medicine they need. The 31-year-old lawmaker has just introduced legislation that would cap the price of insulin—a medicine people with type 1 diabetes need to live, which has become unaffordable for many—at $50 a month.

The mission is personal for Talarico, as he nearly died three years ago when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He shared his story on Twitter:

"In May 2018, I was a healthy 28-year-old running for the Texas House. I decided to walk the entire length of my district and hold town halls along the way. I hike Big Bend every year, so I wasn't concerned about a 25 mile walk...

But halfway through the walk, I began feeling nauseous and fatigued. Before the town hall in Hutto, I vomited in the bathroom."

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

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.

Keep Reading Show less