The Editors' Blog

The story behind an old picture from a Klan rally

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.