You Made This 17 Year-Old's Story So Big, Even A Federal Judge Noticed

If not, check out this post to refresh your memory.


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Back in November 2012, we posted a video about Alvin Cruz, a then-17-year old Harlem native who recorded a disturbing incident while he was stopped, searched, and frisked by members of the NYPD.

Alvin's recording was the first known audio evidence of stop-and-frisk, a decades-long institutional police practice in New York City that, in effect, legalized (and even incentivized) racial profiling, especially of black and Latino people.

While we thought Alvin's story was outrageous and important, we weren't convinced that a 13-minute video about racial profiling could go viral.

Boy, were we wrong. By our count, the video's been viewed almost 5.5 million times. But that's not even the coolest part:

In August 2013, after years of citizen activism and organizing toward ending stop-and-frisk, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the program is unconstitutional. In her opinion, she cited Alvin's story and the original video it appeared in as "frequent and ongoing notice of troubling racial disparities in stops."


There are a lot of critics out there who think sharing a video on the Internet can't actually contribute to meaningful social change. While we're not making the argument that Alvin's story alone ended stop-and-frisk, we think this stands as pretty powerful evidence that seeing an unjust practice directly from the perspective of someone who bears its brunt is a good way to change hearts and minds — and, hell, occasionally some crappy laws too.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.