I barely knew him in middle school over at Wilbur Wright, at least until the day he saved me. I was playing basketball in gym class when I reached for a ball that was heading out of bounds. Unfortunately, I saved it squarely into this guy Marvin’s face. After a stunned few seconds, he said, “If this bleeds, I’m a kick yo white ass!”

 

The bell rang and I scurried off to lunch, but I wasn’t really hungry. Almost as soon as I entered the cafeteria, I was told by a number of classmates that Marvin had in fact bled quite profusely, vowing to return the favor during lunch. In came Charlie Jones, a scrawny little black kid with a high-pitched voice. As a mob of students gathered to witness the wondrous carnage, Charlie talked us both into believing a fight wasn’t necessary. He did this not with words as much as through his actions—this tiny man had stood up and made sure we didn’t add to already volatile racial relations at school.

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