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A Tale Of Two Sara(h)’s: Why SaraBeth And Sarah Dunn Are Two Of Country’s Rising Stars

While they may be from two different regions in the United States, there are two young artists who are shaking country music up and making the millennial generation proud too.

They are Sarah Dunn, from the Sarah Dunn Band and SaraBeth.

They have a lot in common, including the fact that both just released their latest works in the past few weeks.

The Sarah Dunn Band released their album “Wild Wild Heart” and SaraBeth released her EP “Full Speed Ahead”

Sarah Dunn Band and SaraBeth thank social media for giving the greatest push in obtaining their “trending” status in the country music scene.

BUT they come from very different walks of life.

Sarah Dunn is from Monett, Missouri, where she grew up on a small farm along with her father and mother.

Musical talent ran in her family as she saw her father perform musically often while she was a little girl. Her great grandfather also played the fiddle.

WATCH: Sarah Dunn Band’s song “You or the Whiskey” 

And, it was that musical family that taught her all she knows about music.

Why?

Because that is all the training that she had.

“There was a time in my life that I was working two regular day jobs, and it seemed like there was never enough to make ends meet,” Sarah Dunn said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “This situation made my path difficult but it also made me stronger.”

READ MORE: Up And Coming Country Star Mitchell Tenpenny Is Proving Nashville’s Relevancy

On the other side of the equation, we have, SaraBeth.

Growing up in the suburbs in Dallas, SaraBeth decided to dip into her toes into the country music scene after being pushed by her brother’s success in baseball.

WATCH: SaraBeth’s “Nowhere With You” 

“My younger brother got drafted to play for the St. Louis Cardinals, and, being able to see my little brother accomplish this dream by battling all the negative thoughts and comments in his path, that inspired me to follow mine too,” SaraBeth said.

Interestingly, SaraBeth went on to study entrepreneurship at Baylor University.

After that, she went to the epicenter of country music, Nashville to start her career.

And then, success came, and their worlds collided.

READ MORE: New Jersey Girl Lacey Caroline Tries To Break Into Country Music Scene

Sarah Dunn Band and SaraBeth have performed in the same concerts before and have mutual respect for each other.

“Sarah Dunn and her band are absolutely amazing. They are very genuine and those are the types of people that you want to be surrounded in this industry,” SaraBeth said. “We both are in an industry that is usually connected to money, success and ambition, and Sarah Dunn and her band feel like home when you are surrounded by them.”

Sarah Dunn had positive things to say about all the artists hustling in the musical world, including SaraBeth.

“In the society that we live now, it is extremely important to be uplifting to others. I don’t really view them as competition because everything is unique and shines on their own light,” Sarah Dunn said. “There is so much opportunity to grow and help grow each other. We have to celebrate each other. That is a wonderful thing.”

For more about each artist, you can visit: 

SarahDunnBand.com

SaraBethMusic.com

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: SaraBeth/ Facebook

The Incredible Story Of How A College Student Singlehandedly Changed The Constitution

By Ana Cedeno

While every experience is different, there are some universal truths when it comes to college.

The food is always expensive for example.

You learn to crave privacy after having a roommate, and term papers are either an easy “A” or the bane of your existence.

Such is life. 

But for Gregory Watson, one such term paper would go on to change his life forever.

As a student in 1982 attending the University of Texas, Watson wrote a term paper on the topic of the unratified 27th Amendment to the Constitution.

At the time there were only 26 Amendments to the Constitution, and dozens of other proposals throughout the course of American history were never able to join in their elite number.

For his paper, Watson wanted to impress. So he dug deep through archives where he found the text of a proposed Amendment first proposed in 1787 but was left unratified due to lack of support, as only six states backed it.

This proposed Amendment stated that No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

What this basically means is that a congressman cannot vote themselves a pay raise and have it take effect immediately, but would have to wait until the next election cycle.

This in turn would give them an incentive to be less corrupt, since if they act in any way that makes people think they don’t deserve the raise, they can be voted out.

195 years down the road, Watson found the Amendment while looking for a topic for his paper in the Austin public Library.  

According to an article in the Post-Gazettethe Amendment caught Watson’s attention, and upon finding that it was still in play realized it could still be passed.

So he wrote a banging paper about it that only received a C grade because the professor didn’t think his idea of getting the Amendment passed was realistic.

Later in an interview for Unlock Congress, Watson agreed this just episode made him more determined to see the process through.

He did this by going on to contact state legislators all around the country, trying to convince them the Amendment should be ratified.  

“I knew that all I had to do was show this to the state legislatures and convince them that it had no deadline,” Watson told the Huffington Post. “And therefore, because it had no deadline, it was technically still pending business. And they could still take it up — even though it was 192 or 193 years later. And sure enough, that’s what happened. The very next year I was able to get Maine to approve it. And once I got a state to approve it, the momentum took off. The year after that, 1984, I got Colorado to pass it. It really took off in 1985; five states passed it. I knew it was just a simple matter of clearly presenting this issue to the state legislatures, and that they would act appropriately. And they did.”

By 1992, Alabama, Missouri and Michigan were the last states to ratify the amendment, finally making it a reality a decade after he was given a “C” on that term paper.

While he’s come a long way from that sophomore in 1982, Watson’s passion for politics hasn’t died down. He is still involved as a Legislative Policy Analyst in the Texas Legislature and encourages others to take an interest in politics.

"You say you'll change the constitution. Ok." Photo Credit: Alex Harden/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“You say you’ll change the constitution. Ok.” The Beatles weren’t exactly Constitutional experts. Photo Credit: Alex Harden/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

If the public does not constantly monitor and communicate with their elected officials, guess what?,” Watson said in the interview with Unlock Congress. “Their elected officials are going to play, and they’re going to engage in sleazy behavior… and the only way to keep them honest is by constantly monitoring them and constantly communicating with them.”

While this story of sophomore-assignment-turned-Amendment seems borderline incredible, it goes to show just how alive the Constitution truly is.

It also sets an example for those who want to make a difference in the country.

If this one man was able to bring about a change to the Constitution-something that many people more powerful then himself have failed at, then imagine what we all could do if we worked together towards collective change. 

All you have to do is be willing to fight for that change, even if you get a C. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Daniel R. Blume/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Colleges Around The World Really Aren’t So Good At This “Free Speech” Thing

Watch what you spout on Facebook – and anywhere on social media – because it could come back to bite you. Or get you kicked out of college.

Today’s college students grew up with social media, so it’s easy to make a connection as to why in recent years an increasing number of students all over the globe have been under fire for expressing their opinions, on platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. One of the most controversial subjects is, not surprisingly, religion.

Should universities and colleges regulate and prohibit certain types of speech? In a new survey of college students, 69% said colleges should be able to establish policies that restrict the use of racial slurs and other language that is intentionally offensive to certain groups.

Gallup surveyed more than 3,000 college students for the study conducted by the Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute.

When it comes to free speech and First Amendment rights, all speech isn’t created equal in the eyes of colleges, and in some cases students have been expelled for unsavory code of conduct, with religious issues at the heart of it.

Sheffield, England

Earlier this year, a Christian university student in England was expelled from his courses in social work after he expressed views about gay marriage and quoted the bible on his Facebook page.

Someone filed a complaint, and the University of Sheffield suspended him two months later.

Felix Ngole, 38, was in the process of getting his master’s in social work, when he posted a supportive message about Kim Davis, the Kentucky marriage clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The university argued that Ngole’s beliefs are discriminating and not appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.

Ngole says he’s the one being discriminated against. Universities censoring students for their views and beliefs raises major concerns about the value of free speech, his supporters say.

“The university has failed to protect his freedom of speech under Article 10 [of the British Human Rights Act] and his freedom of religion under Article 9,” Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Ngole said in a statement. “Students are entitled to discuss and debate their own personal views on their own Facebook page.”

Some people do in fact use a public forum like Facebook as if they’re having a conversation in their living room.

A student at DuPage University in Glen Ellyn, Illinois talking at an on campus event. Questions about free speech on campus is back in the news. Photo Credit: COD Newsroom/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A student at DuPage University in Glen Ellyn, Illinois talking at an on campus event. Questions about free speech on campus is back in the news. Photo Credit: COD Newsroom/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The old adage “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” typically describes principles of free speech, although not so much in the university setting lately.

Ngole is a prime example.

“The university claims my views are discriminatory, but I am the one being discriminated against because of my expression of Christian beliefs,” he said in an interview with HuffPost UK. “I wonder whether the university would have taken any action if a Muslim student who believes in Shari’a law, with its teaching about women and homosexuality, had made moderate comments on his Facebook page. I don’t think so.”

Fort Worth, Texas

In a similar case, a student at Texas Christian University was kicked out of school last year and instructed to take a diversity class and see a psychiatrist. Student Harry Vincent described Baltimore rioters as “hoodrat criminals” on his Facebook page and in a tweet, on a different topic, stated Islam is “clearly not a religion of peace.”

His messages offended a woman named Kelsey, who compiled his “disgusting and racist” posts and shared them on her Tumblr asking people to email TCU to let the university know Vincent was “shedding a bad light” on the institution.

The dean’s office received more than 20 complaints and Vincent was suspended by the university. He was charged with infliction of bodily or emotional harm and disorderly conduct. He appealed the decision but the university denied his appeal, stating “The choices you made caused harm to other individuals. These types of comments are not acceptable at TCU and directly contradict our mission of being ethical leaders and responsible citizens in a global community.”

Vincent said he probably won’t return to TCU because he will not attend a school that doesn’t support the Constitution or the school’s own student handbook.

Nampa, Idaho

Religion is a touchy subject, and universities don’t want their constituency threatened – whether by a student or faculty. In a case involving a tenured professor in Idaho, social media wasn’t necessarily at play, but the broader spectrum of First Amendment rights.

Professor Thomas Oord of Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho was laid off last year under the guise of budget cuts.

Oord, a prolific writer and popular theologian, believes in evolution and he clashed with the university’s president on theology.

One writer pastor named Tim Suttle put it brilliantly when he said Northwest Nazarene should have just been honest and “own up” to why Oord was fired via email by president David Alexander.

“It’s such a failure of nerve to call it a budget cut,” Tim Suttle wrote. “Be straight about it, man… ‘I fired him because I disagree with his theological positions and he’s a pain in my butt. He’s a brilliant theologian but I don’t want him at my school and that’s my call.’ I would disagree with it, but at least your integrity is intact as a leader.”

As institutions of higher education continue to wake up to the realities of social media, there will no doubt be more flash-points in the fight for free speech.

Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer and social media marketer in Idaho. She has a degree in Journalism from the University of Montana. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: mckinney75402/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“Affluenza” Teen On The Run From Police After He Violates His Probation

DALLAS—A warrant has been issued for Ethan Couch after his probation officer was unable to reach him or his mother, according to a statement from Couch’s attorneys. Couch and his mother, with whom he is living, have been out of contact with his juvenile probation officer for the last “several days,” attorneys Reagan Wynn and Scott… Read More

WATCH: Video Of Mock “Mass Shooting” Near University Of Texas Campus

Pro-gun activists staged a mock “mass shooting” near the campus of the University of Texas at Austin on Saturday to make a statement about gun free zones.

The event was controversial to say the least, with a public safety expert telling Rise News that the stunt was “over the top“.

A video obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, shows how the event turned out. The video was produced by two pro-gun organizations, DontComply.com and Come and Take It Texas. (So take it with a Texas size grain of salt.)

Read More: Pro Gun Groups Plan To Hold Fake “Mass Shooting” Near University Of Texas Campus

WATCH:

H/T: Rise News reporter Tony R. Myhre for the tip.

A Youth Mind: How These Texas Teens Want To Change The African Narrative

Campbell Erickson is a connector of young people.

Campbell Erickson is resourceful.

Campbell Erickson embodies entrepreneurialism.

Campbell Erickson is 16 years old.

Last summer, Erickson sent out a call to action to fellow Austin, TX teenagers who follow him on his Instagram account. The call was for people who wanted to make an impact and to change a particular narrative around the nascent nation of South Sudan.

But this isn’t just about Erickson. In response to his call, six Austin based teenagers, attending different high schools and varying in age have come together to start a project they call “A Youth Mind.”

“‘A Youth Mind’ comes from the idea that literally the minds of youth, I feel personally, aren’t recognized as much as they should be this day and age, especially when it comes to documentation and recognition of places, people and culture,” Erickson said. “The mind of a kid who is growing up is so open and so creative.”

But that’s just the name. It was the end goal of changing the conversation around different parts of the world that attracted the others to the project.

“Ignorance, to me, is my greatest fear. If you have resources and have things available to you, you have to choose to be ignorant. If you can choose to understand people and choose just to know things, why would you choose not too? Team member, Sophia Alami-Nassif, 17, said.

“People think you’re doing this cute little project. It made me want to work harder to make people understand. To almost prove to people we are not that little kid project.”

The goal of A Youth Mind is to combat ignorance through education. Through an Indiegogo campaign that raised $1,700, the A Youth Mind team is set to purchase disposable cameras that they will send through their NGO Austin-based partner, Lone Star-Africa Works, to South Sudan.

Once the cameras make it to the young people in South Sudan communities, they will use the cameras to shoot raw footage of their homes, their schools, their families and their friends.

Then they will send the photos back to Austin to the A Youth Mind team. The goal will be to distribute the photos as print books made through a platform called Weeva that will be sold to buy more cameras. The photos will also be distributed to various traditional and social media channels for maximum exposure.

After South Sudan, the team’s hope is to expand to other countries.

Tsang_Green_Whiteboard

“We want to increase awareness using the raw image of a country like South Sudan instead of the Western media taking the photo.” Erickson said. “The final goal is to create an exchange between communities because we want young people all over the world to grow up with this awareness of other young people, this awareness of other cultures, of other places.”

As young people trying to combat ignorance in other young people, the A Youth Mind team is receiving a different kind of education outside of traditional schooling.

This project is not a school project. It is not a charity. It is a global humanitarian partnership started by young people who are passionate and want to remain engaged with the world.

“I actually believe in this. We are receiving validation from the feedback we are getting, and I don’t necessarily feel like you always get that in school,” Alami-Nassif said. “I feel like you are just expected to show up and do a task. The thing about this project is that it focuses on humanity, and I think school is really lacking that.”

The experience in entrepreneurial leadership and global awareness that the team is gaining cannot be quantified in a grade.

Nor can the ‘real world’ aspect be quantified, which was apparent when the team found themselves representing A Youth Mind at a booth at SXSW Eco in October in Austin, TX.

“It was humbling. It was a step into reality,” Ori Green, 16, said. “It wasn’t necessarily condescending, but you could see how being a kid and trying to start something like this, you get those natural ‘arts and crafts’ kind of feels to it. People think you’re doing this cute little project. It made me want to work harder to make people understand. To almost prove to people we are not that little kid project.”

YouthMindSXSWeco

Some SXSW Eco conference-goers did understand. Using a whiteboard, dry erase markers and a goal to spark conversation, the A Youth Mind team engaged conference participants by asking them to write the first word that came to mind when they think of Africa.

“We were going for stereotypes and things you think of when don’t really think of Africa. But we got so many amazing ideas and people’s thoughts,” Joshua Tsang, 16, said.

SXSW Eco was a pivotal reality check for the team.

“Afterward, I had to take a step back and think, ‘Woah, this is kind of actually going somewhere big.’ It was the first real deep breath of actuality for this,” Green said.

While the future looks bright for A Youth Mind, the project is not without its challenges. But with true entrepreneurial resourcefulness and dogged determination, the A Youth Mind team is accepting challenges in stride.

“One challenge is how do we get cameras through customs in South Sudan? We have a solution and this is working with churches over there to help get the cameras through.” Erickson said.

Flexibility, determination and a collaborative team will get the first round of photos back from South Sudan in the early part of 2016.

The goal is for the first book to be published by the summer of 2016.

“Our plan is to execute this first project and see what went good and what went bad and how we can make it better,” Green said. “How can we do it cheaper, more efficiently. Then after we do that we have a world of options. Literally.”

Photo Credits: Submitted.

Textbook Company Receives Backlash for Interpreting Slaves As “Workers” and “Immigrants”

A Texas mother took to YouTube to voice her frustrations after textbook giant McGraw-Hill rewrote slavery out of history. In a section titled “Passage of Immigration,” Roni Dean-Burren noticed that slaves were referred to as “workers” and “immigrants.”

The passage reads, “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”

“The Atlantic slave trade brought millions of workers … notice the nuanced language there. Workers implies wages … yes?” Dean-Burren wrote on her Facebook.

Dean-Burren notes in her video that the Textbook also includes a passage saying that many Europeans and English people “came over to work as indentured servants for little or no pay.”

McGraw Hill heard of the backlash and took to Facebook to respond to Dean-Burren, announcing it will be updating the textbook in its next print and in digital format.

“We believe we can do better,” McGraw-Hill posted on its Facebook. “To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor.”

This isn’t the first time Texas textbooks have received backlash for revisionism – ten university scholars accused Texas textbooks of including biased statements about Islam, Native Americans, capitalism, religion and the Civil War.

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

 

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