BRUCE, Mississippi — In Bruce, Mississippi, kindness is a source of strength.
Diamond Campbell, 16, may very well be one of the strongest people in Bruce. She's been powerlifting since the sixth grade.
"I had older friends who did power lifting,” Diamond said. “They were like, ‘It's really cool experience.’ So, I was like, ‘I'm going to try out.’ And I loved it as soon as I started."
This past season, Diamond made it all the way to the state finals and after her first exercise of the championship, Diamond was feeling confident.
But Diamond's first lift was disqualified, but not because there was something wrong with the exercise. It was disqualified because she had beads in her hair.
For years, there's been a rule preventing lifters from wearing certain types of head gear, but the rule banning beads was new. Diamond has been adorning her hair with beads since she was a little girl.
"You know, hair, beads and accessories are part of the African American culture,” said Melody Campbell, Diamond’s mom.
But Diamond had to get the beads out of her hair to stay in the competition, and she had just minutes to do it. What happened next at the power lifting championships, lifted everybody inside the Mississippi Coliseum.
"The next thing I know, I got like eight people's hands in my head, and they were all just pulling them out,” Diamond said, laughing.
Weeks later, back in Bruce, Mississippi, a reunion of sorts. Diamond got the chance to say thank you to her opponents turned friends.
"I didn't have anything working against me when I went up to lift,” said one opponent, Jorja Roberson of East Union High.
“So, it wasn't fair for her to have that against her,” she said.
Diamond, who ended up in 4th place in that state meet, is already training for next season, and she won't have to worry about her hair. Thanks to the efforts of these young women, the rule banning beads has been removed.
The best exercise of all is lifting someone up and in Mississippi, some young powerlifters showed that their greatest quality was strength of character.