After the shocking events in Charlottesville in which Nazi and Antifa protesters collided and an innocent woman was left dead, it’s important to search out a better means to deal with hatred.
In 1996, an 18-year-old named Keshia Thomas practically gave America a blueprint in dealing with hate and opinions that differ from yours or mine.
Thomas, an African-American teenager, attended a counter protest to a scheduled KKK rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
That’s when a man sporting a confederate flag t-shirt wandered into the crowd. The anti-klan protesters began beating him. But Thomas, despite her feelings for a man presumed to be with the KKK, couldn’t sit idly by as the unruly mob continued to pummel him.
Below is an image of Thomas shielding the man, an image that became one of Life Magazine’s Pictures of the Year.
As it turned out, the man wasn’t a Klan member.
Via People (1996):
EARLY ON THE AFTERNOON OF JUNE 22, Ann Arbor, Mich., home of the University of Michigan, was experiencing a kind of retrograde horror. Like ghosts from an old newsreel, a reported 17 Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, most of them hooded, were arrayed on the second-floor promenade of City Hall, where officials had allowed them to hold a rally. In the street, meanwhile, 300 anti-Klan protesters were assembling, and one spotted a white male spectator wearing Confederate flags on his vest and T-shirt. Instantly, a swarm of angry-demonstrators rushed him, including an 18-year-old African-American named Keshia Thomas.
“I wanted to yell at him, ‘What did I ever do to you?’ ” Thomas says. “The next thing I know, this one guy hit him with a sign…. Then everybody else started beating him up.” Appalled, Thomas, a high school senior from Yp-silanti, Mich., threw herself over the fallen man, shielding him from the kicks and punches. Soon, the unidentified victim, who police say is not a Klan member, was led to a squad car, lucky to escape with a bloody nose.
In 2016, twenty years after the incident, Thomas revealed that she still receives hate mail and death threats from those who opposed her actions that day, protecting a man from being assaulted or maybe even killed.
“A lot of people, still to this day, hate me,” she said. “I get death threats and they want me to die because they feel that what I’ve done is traded my race.”
Thomas showed America in 1996 how to deal with hate groups that she opposed. With kindness and courtesy for her fellow man.
Where is this type of person, a person willing to stand up against violence rather than trying to promote violence, today?
Do you remember this incident from 1996? Share your thoughts below!
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