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Keshia Thomas
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    (circa 1978- )
    Resided in Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Became famous, at the age of 18, attending a counter-protest to a Ku Klux Klan rally
    Was photographed shielding a man in a Confederate flag T-shirt from being attacked by counter-protesters (June, 1996)
    Photo (taken by Mark Brunner) was named one of Life Magazine's 'Pictures of the Year' for 1996
    She likened her instinct to defend the man as similar to 'rushing to protect your kid when he's in danger.'
    Some in the black community took issue with the photo, arguing that the image of a black woman defending a white racist was just a modernized version of the 'Mammy' stereotype.
    It has never been conclusively proven that the man (since identified as Albert McKeel Jr.) was actually a KKK member or Klan March participant, even though - in addition to the Confederate flag shirt - he sported an 'SS tattoo' on his arm (maybe they were just a fashion statement?)
    A good indicator may have been that McKeel never reached out either privately or publicly to thank her for her action, even after her name was made public.
    Her heroism was praised by South Carolina Senator Ernest Hollings.
    She was accidentally maced by police trying to control the crowds.
    She was later subjected to harassment by black activists labeling her 'a coon.'
    She later explained that she moved to defend the man because '[I] knew what it was like to be hurt ... The many times that that happened, I wish someone would have stood up for me.'
    As she shielded the man, she told the counter-protesters, 'You can't beat goodness into a person.'
    Mark Brunner deemed the photo to be so remarkable because 'she put herself at physical risk to protect someone who, in my opinion, would not have done the same for her.'
    When she was asked on The Oprah Winfrey Show if she feared the protesters would turn on her, she said: 'I know you believe in angels but it felt like two angels had lifted my body up and laid me down. And if you're covered by God you don't worry about anything else.'
    She never heard from the man himself, but months later she was approached by a boy in a coffee shop who said thanks. When she asked 'what for?' he answered, 'that was my dad.'
    The iconic photo was named one of the 57 Most Influential Photo in American History by The Roosevelt (2015).
    She has been a vocal advocate for voting rights, police reform, and education (e.g. speaking at colleges/universities, openly criticizing the police handling of the Sandra Bland case, etc.).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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