The story behind an old picture from a Klan rally

Posted by Dan Barkin on April 15, 2014 

Maybe you saw the photo, taken nearly 30 years ago, of Glenn Miller, aka Frazier Glenn Cross, on the front page of today’s N&O.

The picture was shot by Scott Sharpe, then a 23-year-old Hickory native about 18 months out of UNC’s School of Journalism. Today, Scott is the N&O’s director of photography and multimedia; he has been here since March 1985. Before that, he worked for the Fayetteville Observer.

Miller has been charged with three killings at Jewish institutions near Kansas City. When his name - or names - started popping up on the wires Sunday, Scott remembered him from his North Carolina days.

In the Page One meeting yesterday, Scott had the photo on his laptop. It shows a much younger Miller in a camouflage uniform, posing with a shotgun before a Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan rally in Robeson County.

I asked Scott how he got the photo, and this is what he told me:

“The slaying of the protesters in Greensboro by Klansmen happened when I was a freshman at UNC in 1979 and I started photographing the KKK pretty heavily after that.

“ I was working at Fayetteville, but didn't shoot this for them, just on my own. The Lumbees had run the KKK out of Robeson County back in 1958 by raiding a rally near Maxton. Bill Shaw, a photographer at The Fayetteville Observer, had covered that rally, taken a few shotgun pellets, and had some of his photos published in Life magazine.

“The KKK was having this rally in November of 1984 and I went down thinking that something might happen. It was pretty quiet, but I made a few shots of Miller, who had shifted away from the Klan's robes to a paramilitary look.”

Now me, I would not have wanted to go down to a Klan rally in Robeson to snap off a few pictures, but I’m not a photojournalist. Photojournalists go places where most folks would not venture in order to show the rest of us what it was like.

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