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These 11 images show just how to respond when a hate group tries to set up shop near your home.

Even though some think of the KKK as a secret, underground organization, they're not. Especially not in the Ozarks. Residents of the region are speaking up. In amazing ways.

These 11 images show just how to respond when a hate group tries to set up shop near your home.

What would you do if the KKK decided not just to put its headquarters near your house, but start a youth camp to train young people "to be a voice of racial redemption"?

This happened in July 2015 in Harrison, Arkansas.


You might be a little annoyed, right?

When Rachel Luster, a librarian, community organizer, and arts and community advocate in the Ozark region, saw this headline on Raw Story, it got real: "Klan camp: KKK developing 'a mighty army' of white nationalists at five day training in July."

A lifetime Ozarker, she was more than annoyed. She was ready to act.

"I had this visceral reaction and I didn't know what I was going to do, but as a human being and as an Ozarker, I had to do something about this."
— Rachel Luster

She spoke with members of community organizations across the South, including Black Lives Matter activists who were protesting Klan rallies in Charleston, South Carolina in the wake of the removal of the Confederate flag.

The #NotMyOzarks campaign was born.

A photo posted by NotmyOzarks (@notmyozarks) on

That's Rachel up there with her adorable family!

It's a pretty typical hashtag campaign, using the hashtags #NotMyOzarks and #RuralNotRacist to spread their message of love.

Looking at all the images, you see a picture of rural America that you just don't see elsewhere.

#NotmyOzarks #NotmyRural #LoveNotHate #BlackLivesMatter
A photo posted by NotmyOzarks (@notmyozarks) on


I spoke at length with Rachel on the phone, and she had some important things to say about the culture of silence among rural folks when it comes to race, as well as the need to break that chain.

"We grow up and we're taught ... it's not polite to talk about race or politics or anything like that, and it's also not polite to judge somebody by what color they are or 'who their momma is.'"
— Rachel Luster

A heartwarming quote from "To Kill a Mockingbird," drawn on a piece of paper in the shape of Arkansas. Image via Not My Ozarks Facebook.

Rachel continued:

"We don't really talk about things. But for me in particular ... I just feel like the only way it can get better is if we open [ourselves] up to this conversation — even if it's uncomfortable, even if it is awkward."


A photo posted by NotmyOzarks (@notmyozarks) on
MO Love, Y'all! #NotmyOzarks #NotmyRural #LoveNotHate
A photo posted by NotmyOzarks (@notmyozarks) on

Cool Missouri farmer guy, keeping it real. MO LOVE.

Thanks to the power of the Internet, people in the Ozarks are pushing back against racism.

The #NotMyOzarks campaign has over 2,000 Facebook Likes, and the number of participants is growing.

A photo posted by NotmyOzarks (@notmyozarks) on
A photo posted by NotmyOzarks (@notmyozarks) on
A photo posted by NotmyOzarks (@notmyozarks) on
A photo posted by Kally Sue (@kali_su) on

Communities that were once living in isolation to come together to stand in solidarity. That makes me happy.

If you want to join them in their message of love, take a photo of your family and post it using the hashtag #RuralNotRacist and #NotMyOzarks. Or just follow them on Facebook. In the few days I've known about this group, they've gotten hundreds of new Likes.

It's beautiful to watch love surmount hate.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via USO

Army Capt. Justin Meredith used the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program to read to his son and family while deployed in the Middle East.

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One of the biggest challenges deployed service members face is the feeling of being separated from their families, especially when they have children. It's also very stressful for children to be away from parents who are deployed for long periods of time.

For the past four years, the USO has brought deployed service members and their families closer through a wonderful program that allows them to read together. The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program gives deployed service members the ability to choose a book, read it on camera, then send both the recording and book to their child.

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