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As people began to shout, “Kill the Nazi,” the high school student, fearing that mob mentality had taken over, decided to act. Thomas threw herself on top of one of the men she had come to protest, protecting him from the blows, and told the crowd that you “can’t beat goodness into a person.” In discussing her motivation for this courageous act after the event, she stated, “Someone had to step out of the pack and say, ‘this isn’t right’… I knew what it was like to be hurt. The many times that that happened, I wish someone would have stood up for me… violence is violence – nobody deserves to be hurt, especially not for an idea.”
Thomas never heard from the man after that day but months later, a young man came up to her to say thanks, telling her that the man she had protected was his father. For Thomas, learning that he had a son brought even greater significance to her heroic act. As she observed, “For the most part, people who hurt… they come from hurt. It is a cycle. Let’s say they had killed him or hurt him really bad. How does the son feel? Does he carry on the violence?”
Mark Brunner, the student photographer who took this now-famous photograph, added that what was so remarkable was who Thomas saved: “She put herself at physical risk to protect someone who, in my opinion, would not have done the same for her. Who does that in this world?”
In response to those who argued that the man deserved a beating or more, Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator Leonard Pitts Jr. offered this short reflection in The Miami Herald: “That some in Ann Arbor have been heard grumbling that she should have left the man to his fate, only speaks of how far they have drifted from their own humanity. And of the crying need to get it back.
Keshia’s choice was to affirm what they have lost.
Keshia’s choice was human.
Keshia’s choice was hope.”
For two uplifting picture books for children about the power of kindness, we highly recommend “Be Kind” for ages 3 to 7 (https://www.amightygirl.com/be-kind) and “I Walk With Vanessa” for ages 4 to 8 (https://www.amightygirl.com/i-walk-with-vanessa)
For an excellent bullying prevention guide that teaches kids how to stand up for themselves and others in a positive, productive manner, we highly recommend “Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends” for ages 7 to 12 at https://www.amightygirl.com/stand-up-for-yourself-and-your-…
For two wonderful books that help foster children’s compassion for others by giving them a visual way to think about kindness, we recommend “Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids” for ages 4 to 8 (https://www.amightygirl.com/have-you-filled-a-bucket-today) and its sequel “Growing Up With A Bucket Full Of Happiness” for ages 9 to 12 (https://www.amightygirl.com/growing-up-with-a-bucket-full-o…)
For stories for young readers that encourage them to take a stand on behalf of others — even in the face of opposition — we recommend “Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad” for ages 4 to 8 (https://www.amightygirl.com/unspoken), “Dare” for ages 4 to 8 (https://www.amightygirl.com/dare), “Bully” for ages 7 to 11 (https://www.amightygirl.com/bully), “The Lions of Little Rock” for ages 10 to 13 (https://www.amightygirl.com/the-lions-of-little-rock), and “To Kill A Mockingbird” for ages 12 and up (https://www.amightygirl.com/to-kill-a-mockingbird).
For more books for children and teens about overcoming racial prejudice, visit our “Racial & Ethnic Discrimination” section at http://amgrl.co/2wE6Jbl
And, for more inspiring stories of extraordinary girls and women around the world, you can sign-up for A Mighty Girl’s free weekly email newsletter at https://www.amightygirl.com/forms/newsletter