On Thursday July 11, Temar Boggs and a friend joined over 100 first responders in Lancaster, Pennsylvania when police scoured their neighborhood for 5-year-old Jocelyn Rojas, who was taken from her grandmother's front yard just a couple of hours before. The boys took to their bikes as added assistance in the search when they spotted her in the backseat of her abductor's car and followed.
When the driver realized he was being followed, he released Rojas and sped away. Rojas ran into Boggs' arms and he delivered her unharmed to her frantic family.
Tracey Clay, Rojas' tearful grandmother, hailed Boggs and his friend as "heroes" for their courage.
Following the noise around George Zimmerman's "not guilty" verdict, this story sheds some much needed sunlight on the current state of race-relations in the United States, but simultaneously highlights the shabby state we're in.
Watch an interview with Boggs below:
The Zimmerman case, which dealt in large part with the fears and stereotyping of young "menacing" black men, casts a long shadow now with ensuing rallies, protests, and calls for justice, but Temar Boggs and his friend present an example for the country against this benighted image. Boggs, who describes himself as a "typical kid" — one who plays football and basketball, likes sneakers, and aspires to be a professional athlete or designer — doesn't think he is a hero. He said he "is just a normal person who did a thing anybody else would do".
Indeed, we live in a world where racial differences are often the media centerpieces in controversial stories and where blind stereotyping stalls social progression and acceptance, but the truth is that if the media paid more attention to Boggs' valor and stories like his, the world might be a better place. It is possible that if this happened, we would pay more attention to deeds and accomplishments themselves rather than deeds and accomplishments in spite of ethnicity and race.
I hope as this story continues to unfold that the Lancaster community continues to laud Boggs and his friend for their efforts, for their generosity of spirit. Beyond all else, they demonstrated themselves as extraordinary individuals and not just as helpful black teenagers who happened to come to the aid of a missing white child.