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I became a vegan at the age of 14 and have been involved in animal welfare causes since then.

During those two+ decades, I’ve worked for or with most of the leading animal welfare organizations: from interning after college at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to working on staff for World Animal Protection (WAP), Mercy For Animals (MFA), and the American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Undoubtedly, these organizations do important, life-saving work — on ending factory farming, reducing animal cruelty, and changing laws, public policies and public opinion to stop animal suffering and build a more compassionate world. …

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Isadore Banks

Crittenden County, Arkansas is not a place that most Americans have ever heard of — nor would imagine matters. Look more closely, and its troubled racial past is still very much alive in our still troubled present.

A mere 15 minute drive from the blues of Memphis — due west from the Mississippi River — Crittenden is a majority black county but almost nearly as white. While a law student at Northeastern University, I visited the county in 2011 as part of Northeastern’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, where I investigated the racially-charged cold murder case of Isadore Banks.

Born and raised in Crittenden’s county seat, Marion, Mr. Banks rose from modest circumstances to become the region’s wealthiest black landowner in the early 1950s— which, at the time, was both a notable and dangerous position to be in. …

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“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”

- Alexis de Tocqueville

Nearly 13 years ago, while studying in Kenya, I heard about an American with Kenyan roots who had a launched a long-shot campaign to become the next United States Senator from Illinois.

Back home, I watched Barack Obama’s convention speech in Massachusetts and read his memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” about the millions of dreamers — like his family and mine — who’ve come to our shores seeking hope and opportunity.

Two years later, fresh out of college and inspired by then-Senator Obama, I interned in the U.S. Senate. Like most kids in their early 20s, I was only beginning to understand what I wanted to do with my life — or who I was, for that matter. But something about Barack Obama’s vision and optimism struck a chord that echoed deeply in the core of my political identity — and, more importantly, in the center of my humanity. …

Progress ebbs and flows — it is not an inevitable march.

Yet the country I know — and the country I love — doesn’t fall or rise on a single election.

We who value equality, justice, opportunity for all and inclusivity have overcome before — and we will overcome again.

I do not say that lightly. My right to marry who I love, and my freedom to live openly and equally was on the ballot tonight — and knowingly or not, a majority of my fellow citizens may well have voted to infringe upon those rights, and the rights and dignities of so many others. …

Traveling through Japan last week, I was struck by how strongly Japanese culture prizes community welfare over individual achievement. One of the safest countries in the world with a robust education pipeline and healthcare system, highly efficient public transit, and one of the strongest economies in the world that more equitably distributes wealth than the U.S., Japan has many lessons to teach us, despite having its share of challenges.

But what has moved me most on my travels through Central and South America, Africa, Europe, South Asia and most recently Japan isn’t any particular numerical indicator. …

According to press reports, Bernie Sanders stopped “at a nearby Peet’s Coffee for a scone” before meeting with President Obama today.

Because I was fortunate to have a Jewish father from Manhattan, I know exactly how their conversation went:

POTUS: “Welcome to The White House, Bernie.”
Sanders: “What is this? It’s so dry.”
POTUS: “What’s that?”
Sanders: “The scone, Mr. President. It tastes like cardboard.”
POTUS: “Well, I wanted to congratulate you on a hard-fought campaign and -”
Sanders: “Can someone get me a different scone? I can’t believe this.”
POTUS: “… And say that I hope we can -”
Sanders (sips coffee): “Ack, this cawfee is ice cold. Ice cold, Mr. President.”
POTUS: “… Come together as a-”
Sanders: “I can never find a decent cup of coffee around here, you know?”
POTUS: “… Party and really focus on the general.”
Sanders: “How can they do this? I go in there, I ask for a scone — and they give me paper.”
POTUS: “I have every confidence that you will -”
Sanders: “Then I ask for a cup of coffee — hot — it has to be hot — and they give me a frozen concoction of some kind.”
POTUS: “… Do the right thing and unify the party.” …

9 years ago this past week, I was a 23 year old grad student living in Massachusetts. Although most school days are hardly memorable, I’ll remember one day — February 10, 2007 — for a simple reason: it was the day a long-shot Senator from Illinois, with big ears and a funny name, announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.

On February 10th, I didn’t get much homework done, because I spent most of it watching then-Senator Barack Obama deliver a rousing speech in Springfield, Illinois. …


Jared Milrad

Entrepreneur and filmmaker passionate about social change.

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