Before showing it to you, a little background information. The photographer, Todd Robertson, graduated from the University of Georgia School of Journalism in 1991, and in September of the following year, attended a Ku Klux Klan rally as a freelance photographer, in hopes of capturing some pictures for the Gainesville Times, a small local newspaper. Sixty-six KKK members showed up in Gainesville for that rally, and they were all outsiders. No locals. And there were approximately three times as many law enforcement officers on hand to keep the peace. Some notable civil rights leaders were also there, and the whole rally and peaceful counter-protest march even got some coverage on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Get the picture?
I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding. [Tennessee Williams]
Then, you're ready to SEE the picture.
The now-retired trooper, Allen Campbell, says he wasn't even thinking about race relations that day. To him, it was just another day on the job, and he was thinking more about the Labor Day cook-out he was missing. Then, this little fella approached to marvel at his reflection in the riot shield, and the photographer happened to be right there to capture the moment. To capture the expression on Campbell's face. And a moment is all he got... because the mother, seen at the right of the picture, quickly snatched the boy and brought him back to the stroller, where an even younger child sat, also dressed in mini-KKK garb.
Josh, the little boy in the picture, was only three years old at the time. Most people who see this picture want to know what became of him. But Campbell and Robertson, who abandoned photography shortly after taking this picture, don't know.
In light of this photograph's recent resurrection, the Gainesville Times recently interviewed Campbell and Robertson. You can see that short video here
Anybody remember the poem Children Learn What They Live [by Dorothy Law Nolte, 1972]
Here it is:
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
So, what happens when a child is taught to hate?
I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him. [Booker T. Washington]
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. [St. Francis of Assisi]
Do you remember this song? It isn't a perfect match for this post, but it's insinuated itself into my mind, and insists that it's ... close enough.
So, what do YOU think of that old photograph? What do you see in it? In the expression on the trooper's face?
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. [Martin Luther King, Jr.]