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A black state trooper and a white KKK toddler, 1980′s

April 18, 2011 | By Abraham | 25 comments

According to a Southern Poverty Law Center publication, this photo is by Todd Robertson of the Gainesville Times, but I couldn’t find an original source online or any substantiated facts about the story behind it.

(via The Meta Picture)

25 Comments

    1. Todd Robertson says:

      I will never be able to live without someone finding this picture. Over twenty years later and it just keeps coming up. I am amazed how much this photo has popped up again and again. Gainesville Times, Gainesville GA. Sad but true. It is me. I took it. Josh 3 years old at that time. Klan rally on the square in Gainesville GA. This lady to the right is his mom and they were from the winder knights , Winder GA. So there is the background of this photo. They also had a smaller child that was in a stroller in kkk garb. All the other journalists there were focused on the speeches on the courthouse steps, but I kept an eye on Josh. No need for words to explain this sad situation. I think he thought it was halloween and was looking at his reflection in the shield. Any comments are always welcome.

      1. rachel says:

        Todd,

        Hey! Super curious about the little guy, too. Wondering if he grew up to be normal, despite the obvious odds against him?

      2. Jess Gee says:

        I would love to have this photo enlarged on my wall. Signed would be amazing. As a multiracial family this photo really speaks to us. Is it anywhere I can order it?

  1. Aaron says:

    It almost looks like the cop is feeling compassion for the little one. I’m sure in a sense, he feels bad for him. I know I do. The fact that he was being raised in a home like that and severely tainted in that way makes me sad for him.

  2. @NatMcIntyre says:

    Looks like he’s got those Nike air-pump sneakers. Man those things were cool. Wish my parents would have spoiled me like that. Oh well, you can’t choose your parents, as they say.

  3. Ben Mordecai says:

    This is surreal. You can see the curiosity and lack of discrimination in the toddler and compassion/sympathy in the expression of the trooper. It is sobering in that you wonder if the child ever grew into the ideas of his parents.

    1. Anna says:

      It’s hard to be racist when you’re too short to see what race the state trooper is :-)
      Sadly, there are a lot of images like this, especially in rural south photography.
      Growing up in Memphis, I knew a lot of people from N. Mississippi who didn’t really think of the Klan as a hate group, so maybe if you think of it that way, then it’s not so problematic for you as you grow up, even if you don’t do pro-racism activism yourself.

    1. John says:

      I teach at a police academy in Colorado and many moons ago came across this photo on the back page of “Klan Watch” a periodic publication put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The photo stirred me to my bones. All art moves people to their own story and this photo moved me to mine…Two black Georgia troopers at a Klan ralley protecting little Josh’s father’s constitutionally protected right to advocate treating them as subhumans. As cops we may not agree with the speech, but we have sworn to protect it as these two troopers are doing. I’ve wondered many times what has become of all of the actors in this drama, particularly Josh. And Todd, I have kept my promise to you not to reproduce the print I bought from you many years ago. Every one of my students over the past fifteen years has seen it and discussed it and used it as a launching point for deep discussion and learning. Thanks for taking the photo that day.

  4. Julie says:

    Has anyone followed up with the troopers? I so wonder what they were thinking, how they could keep their cool to protect those rallying against them, and where their paths went subsequently.They probably have a lot to teach us.

  5. Saiorri says:

    Yes, they found the photographer and trooper from this pic. Todd Robertson took the pic, Josh (now ~23) is the kid and the trooper is Allen Campbell. Josh’s mother who is shown on the right, immediately swooped in and took him away almost instantly after he walked over to the trooper and this pic was taken….but hey, the pic was already taken.
    :-)

    http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/199985/how-kkk-rally-image-found-new-life-20-years-after-it-was-published/

    http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/201534/photographer-trooper-from-klan-rally-image-meet/

    “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

  6. Bianca says:

    This picture is sweet, inspiring, and beautiful, but at the same time it is extremely disturbing. In one point of view, you see an adorable kid who feels comfortable enough to approach this black trooper, even though his parents clearly are raising him to hate them. It shows how kids really see beyond skin color. He doesn’t know black or white. But it’s also disturbing because you know that by now, this kid has more than likely grown to hate. I saw somewhere that this picture was taken in September of 1992. Since he was 3 years old here, he is probably 25ish now. I would really like to know how he turned out, and if he is racist, I would love to see his reaction to this photo.

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