When her Army unit was called to fight, this woman refused — and blazed a new trail.

When Aimee Allison was 14, her mother took her to see civil rights leader Jesse Jackson speak — and something changed in her.

Growing up black and biracial in a predominantly white community, Allison regularly experienced incidents of racism. And while she worked hard in school and wanted to someday attend college, it was hard to imagine herself as a leader. After all, she hadn't seen anyone in government who looked like her.

But listening to Jackson changed her whole idea of what her future could entail.


"It was the first time I heard an articulation of what was possible in our country's future by coming together across race," she says.

Image courtesy of Aimee Allison.

The experience inspired Allison to dream big: She wanted to become the first black female secretary of state. She dove into extracurricular activities to set herself up for success, and with each new challenge, she excelled. On her high school's speech and debate team, she did so well that she went on to compete at the national level. Eventually, she ran for student body president, and she won.

Then, when she was 17, she met a recruiter who convinced her that joining the Army Reserves and serving her country would bring her closer to achieving her dreams.

So she signed up and began her training — but it wasn't at all what she expected.

Image via Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller.

"I didn't start out as a person who wanted to pick up a gun," she explains.

The once passionate debater and leader quickly found the environment at odds with who she was. "In military training, there's two main things that you're taught," she says. "You follow orders, and you do not speak up."

So when her unit was called to fight in the first Gulf War, Allison felt the need to finally speak up. She didn't actually believe in going to war and knew her calling was elsewhere.

Image via Upworthy.

"There's an easy choice, which is to follow orders and say nothing," she says. "But my conscience, which is another way to say my heart, would not let me do it."

So instead of going to fight, she became a conscientious objector, which allowed her to be honorably discharged from the military so she was no longer expected to serve. It was a tough move to make, especially because her military training had told her not to question her orders. But she knew it was the right decision.

"Becoming a conscientious objector was my call to serving the country, to serving humanity," she says.

Image via Upworthy.

She learned in that moment that she had the ability to stand up for what she believes in.

"All of my work since my time as a teenager in the military has been to follow my heart, to do the thing that's right, and to be as courageous as I can," she says. "That's how I found who I was, and that's how I have been organizing my life ever since," she says.  

Remembering how powerful an experience it had been to see Jesse Jackson speak, she realized that she, too, could use her voice to engage her community in the political process.

Image via Upworthy.

Women of color are 20% of the U.S. population and yet only 4% of elected officials. And that's why Allison is speaking out to make sure people of color get more representation.

She's the president of Democracy in Color, an organization that mobilizes black and brown voters and supports progressive candidates of color in order to diversify the government.

Allison also hosts the Democracy in Color podcast, writes articles on women of color in government, and uses social media to engage potential voters in the issues that affect the lives of people of color.

While it's taken a lot of courage for her to follow her heart, Allison's journey is an important reminder that the right path is not always the easiest to take. Now, as a fierce advocate for her community, she's showing others that when the path is unclear, it's time to blaze a new trail.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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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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