This week was a banner week for women standing up and, as the saying goes, "speaking truth to power."

On Sunday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave a passionate speech on racial equality at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. Her remarks offered a bold defense of the Black Lives Matter movement and went further than any high-profile, mainstream politician's have before to support the modern-day civil rights activists who are, in her words, "fighting for their lives."


Photo of Cecile Richards by Mark Wilson/Getty Images. Sen. Warren by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood Federation for America President Cecile Richards testified before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. The five-hour-long session was Richards' chance to defend the vital women's health organization that some in Congress are seeking to defund. It was long and hard but a tour de force performance in grace under fire. And Richards never wavered.

Together, they gave a master class in how to tell the inconvenient truth. Here are three lessons they taught us:

1. Have confidence when the facts are on your side — and share them.

When you're standing up with a strong argument, it helps to know the facts and, as tedious as it may feel, educate your audience on them. Does it mean you'll ultimately convince them? Maybe not. But it helps to start with the basics.

Sen. Warren's speech was basically CliffsNotes for the history of the American civil rights struggle and structural racism in the areas of economic policy, policing, and voting. It gave her impassioned support the grounding it needed with a side dish of "I probably know more about this than you do, so let me school you a bit."

Richards was no different. She patiently responded to every unfounded claim and attack with facts about women's health generally, reproductive rights specifically, and Planned Parenthood repeatedly. Richards wasn't just there because of what she felt or believed. She was there because of what she knows to be true.



2. Sometimes, it will feel like you're standing alone.

Cecile Richards' testimony was difficult to watch. Time and time again she was interrupted, accused of lying, and aggressively questioned as the panel of mostly male Congress members interrogated her about the value and worth of her work — and ultimately, as a woman, her health and rights. Even Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia, called out the rampant "disrespect and misogyny."

Richards sat, head held high, one woman against the world, fighting for humanity ... OK. Got a bit carried away there. But it was a pretty serious setup. And it couldn't have been easy being the lone target of all of that ire and anti-woman sentiment.

Sen. Warren's environment, on the other hand, wasn't as physically isolating. But she too was standing alone in a field of mainstream politicians who have, until now, given timid, tepid, and downright contrarian responses to black Americans' simple call for human rights and justice. For her to stand up and speak without a lot of public allies took a boldness and authenticity that is not popular among her peers.

3. People will have your back.

When you're standing alone and telling the truth on behalf of people who otherwise aren't being heard, it's highly likely that those people will make sure you actually aren't alone.

Cecile Richards may have been one woman sitting in that room. But online and off, thousands were standing with her. Literally. #IStandwithPP and the first ever National Pink Out Day engaged men and women of all ages, races, and backgrounds to publicly stand behind the core truth of her testimony: Planned Parenthood is necessary and good. They were her chorus as she spoke for them.

And the response after Warren's speech was no different. Black Lives Matter activists and anyone who has been working hard to end discrimination and inequality praised her for her boldness, her depth, and her willingness to say what they already know to be true: that America still has a long way to go in ensuring true equality. And in the meantime...

We live in a world that has made it pretty darn hard for those in power to say what needs to be said.

But even for the the rest of us, telling the truth isn't always easy, especially in the face of those who challenge or threaten what you believe in. These brave women not only showed us how it's done, but they empower us to do it ourselves with authenticity, dignity, and grace.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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