There are not many activists like Keshia Thomas. She is not pretentious as some activists who have achieved half her notoriety. Keshia is the activist who put her body between a mob and a KKK member who otherwise was going to get beaten to death. Sadly, she was unable to save her restaurant.
Keshia 's Cuisine
As I read my Facebook feed, a new video from Keshia popped up. I was shocked that she was closing her restaurant. I followed her adventures with her restaurant and her community often on Instagram. The food always seemed tasty.
I called Keshia after watching the video to find out exactly what happened. Here is Keshia's story in her own words.
Keshia 's story
Birth of restaurant serving food and activism to a marginalized community
Loyal customer praises restaurant food and owner
Purposeful death of a restaurant serving a marginalized community
The end of an era, restaurant closed
Planned demise: Necessary renovation only after the restaurant closed
Before heading to lunch, Keshia wanted to show me some of her community.
"Egberto, this street was one of the worst in Houston," Keshia said. "People shot up each other frequently. It is better than it was."
As we walked down her street, everyone who passed knew who she was. All of them gave her hugs as they looked at me with suspicion. It was clear she has guardians in that community from all kinds of characters, regular folk as well as the shady. Many were disappointed when they heard she was closing.
Then there it was; the microcosm of a malaise that afflicts marginalized communities. A building in an apartment complex that partially burned down remained in that same state several years after the fire. It was an eyesore but more importantly a hazard. Yes, our marginalized communities need champions like Keshia who are willing to build from within.
As we walked back to the gas station, Keshia started telling me stories about some of the events on her street. I had seen a few on video where she diffused incidents between community members and the police.
Two of her stories stuck. The first, putting herself between a gun and another person because she knew they would not shoot her. She is a rational and neutral respected person in the community.
The second story was also disconcerting.
"Egberto, there are two bullet holes in my car, "Keshia said. "A kid told me he accidentally shot up my car. This other bullet hole, I am not sure where it came from."
Something tells me she has not lost any of her nine lives.
It was clear the community will miss Keshia's restaurant. Unfortunately, she must live through this setback until she is able to start a new project which I am sure she will get off the ground sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.