Christian Picciolini (CP) and Johnny Holmes (JH)
Christian Picciolini (CP): I put you through hell.
Johnny Holmes (JH): You were rough.
CP: I mean there were fights, there were words that we had those years that I was there.
JH: The one that I remember, I kind of ushered you into the dean’s office. And I remember she put her arms around you to try to calm you down. And excuse the language but you were like, ‘You black bitch, get your filthy hands off of me. And I live to see the day when a nigger will be hanging from every light pole in Blue Island.’
Now, in my younger days we would’ve been fighting until tomorrow. But my philosophy was, be the parent away from home. You were a 16-year-old kid. I knew you had been brainwashed and I remember saying to you, ‘Chris, how can you be filled with so much hate? You play on the same football team as my son.’ And so I wanted the opportunity to get through to you.
CP: It did get through to me — I want you to know that. And it was that compassion when I didn’t deserve it that eventually stuck. You know, I got out of what I was involved in, but I still didn’t have the courage to tell people about my past.
Many years later, I was working for IBM and I was terrified. Because of all the millions of places that IBM could have put me for my first day of work, it was at my old high school. And of course within the first five minutes, as I’m standing in that hallway, here comes you walking right in front of me. And I didn’t know what to do, you didn’t see me, but I decided I was going to follow you to the parking lot, and tapped you on the shoulder and you took a step back.
JH: Because I knew you as you were.
CP: I didn’t have words for you, because I know all the hell that I put you through. And all I could say to you was, ‘I’m sorry’.
The one thing that you told me that day, you were like a prophet, you said, ‘This isn’t just about some white kid who goes into a Nazi group. This is about every young person who feels vulnerable and is looking where to belong.’ And because you did that, I’m doing what I do now.
JH: And you’ve been doing a wonderful job. Because look at what’s happening now. Reaching people, getting people on the straight and the narrow.
JH: That was one incident with us. Look how it’s multiplying.
JH: I wanna say, thank you, because I’m sitting here now because of you.