More

5 American heroes you know, and the 5 ways they fought for freedom you might not know about.

What better way to celebrate good ol' American freedom than by honoring the people who helped shape the country we know and love (OK, at least know)?

5 American heroes you know, and the 5 ways they fought for freedom you might not know about.

Ah, 4th of July. Freedom is in the air.

Can you smell it? GIF from "The Colbert Report."


The U.S. has a rich history of separate movements that have worked together to create a better country for its citizens. But sometimes it seems we forget that these movements do not occur in silos; they're often intertwined — and even share some activists!

So, before you fire up your grill and share some drinks with family and friends, let's take a second to have a quick (but fun!) history lesson, shall we?

Here are five not-so-well-known causes that were supported by well-known freedom fighters:

1. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, but she was also an anti-rape advocate.


Image from the White House.

During her time as chapter secretary of the Montgomery, Alabama, NAACP, Rosa Parks served as an sexual crimes investigator and was heralded as one of the best. She continued to speak out and fight the systemic abuse of black women outside her role as well, helping black women find justice against white rapists in a time when justice was near impossible to get.

While we've come a long way, the fight against rape culture is still going strong. Check out some of the groups working to create a world free of sexual violence at the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

2. Helen Keller advocated for the rights of people with disabilities, but she also supported increased birth control access.

Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty.

The deaf and blind activist best known for her work in disability rights also supported a myriad of other causes. Many people don't know that she a passionate advocate for women's access to birth control. Or, to put it in her words, which are delightfully blunt:

"Only by taking the responsibility of birth control into their own hands can [women] roll back the awful tide of misery that is sweeping over them and their children."

#realtalk, amirite?

I can't believe that I'm writing this in 2015, but ... the fight for reproductive rights is still raging on. Check out these organizations that are carrying on the fight for increased access to birth control and comprehensive sex education: Advocates for Youth and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

3. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech, but he also focused on the importance of equal economic opportunity for all.

Image via Minnesota Historical Society/Flickr.

"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

Dr. King dreamed of a world where people of different races could coexist peacefully. But he also knew how having equal economic opportunity for all Americans is vital to creating a more just society.

If you want to get in on the action to increase economic opportunity for Americans, check out Jobs with Justice and the Center for American Progress Talk Poverty project.

4. Susan B. Anthony fought for women's suffrage, but she started out as a slavery abolitionist activist.

Image from History of Woman Suffrage/Wikimedia Commons

"Extend to him all the rights Citizenship. Let him vote and be voted for; let him sit upon the judge's bench, and in the juror's box. ... Let the North thus prove to the South, by her acts, that she fully recognizes the humanity of the black man."

Anthony grew up with parents who were active in the antislavery movement of the 1840s. She followed in her parents' footsteps when she became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. She also loved to write scathing op-eds denouncing lynchings and other racist acts against African-Americans in the local newspapers.

The fight for racial equality continues today, and it's far from over. Check out the Black Lives Matters movement (started by women, no less!) to see what you can do in the continued crusade for racial justice.

5. Cesar Chavez didn't only care about humans. He was also an avid animal rights supporter.

Image from Movimiento/Wikimedia Commons

"The basis for peace is respecting all creatures. We cannot hope to have peace until we respect everyone — respect ourselves and respect animals and all living things."

Chavez is best known for his leadership in the movement for farm workers' rights. But he also believed that the commitment to justice should include respect and love of animals. He really was about practicing what he preached: Chavez spent the last 25 years of his life not eating meat and even spent a few years as a vegan. Who knew?

If you're also all about helping our furry friends, definitely check out the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States.

Now go impress your friends at the BBQ this weekend with your impressive historical knowledge.

Happy 4th!

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less
via UniversalPicsSweden

Steven Spielberg's "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" is one of the greatest films ever made but it could have easily been a disaster.

Director Steven Spielberg took huge risks with the film betting the house on the relationship between a young boy named Elliott and an oddly-shaped alien.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less
via City of Calgary

Graffiti is an underground form of expression that can be seen as anything from criminal destruction of property to art. Most of the time that depends on whether it was your wall that was defaced.

While most graffiti is painted over, some of it is so powerful that it becomes a beloved part of the community. Many of street artist Banksy's pieces are still up and have become popular landmarks throughout the world.

But what about little nuggets of fake history placed on park benches around Canada? Where do we sign up?

Keep Reading Show less