The Story in Pictures - But Which Story?

February 23, 2009
Posted by Jay Livingston

A couple of days after the election, back in November (how long ago that now seems), I posted a picture that I’d found on Ezra Klein’s blog at The American Prospect , and I urged readers to go there for the full sequence of photos that tell a wonderful story.

I was wrong about who took the photos. But more puzzling, I’m now not sure whether the story told by the photos is accurate.

I had thought that Klein himself had taken the photos. He hadn’t. He had gotten them from the blog of April Winchell who has a funny blog but earns a living mostly with her voice – radio, voice-overs (what else would you expect from the daughter of Paul Winchell*?). But Winchell didn’t take the photos either (she’s in LA, the rally was in Virginia), and apparently she didn’t know who did. But after the pictures had been sped around the Internet, appearing in places much more frequented than the Socioblog, she got an e-mail from the photographer, a 17-year-old girl named Nida Vidutis.

She wrote about what led up to the photos, and her account differs from Ezra Klein’s. Here’s what Ezra says:
here were two small children, both on their father's backs. At the beginning, they were about 10 feet from each other, staring anxiously at the stage. One was black, the other white. The little white kid had an Obama sign, the little black kid didn't. They took stock of each other. Soon, the little white kid leaned all the way over to try and give his sign to his new friend. The fathers, noticing, moved closer to each other. And the kids held the sign together. I had forgotten my camera, and was begging others to take pictures.
Here’s Nida’s account.
And there was this kid at the rally, I think he was about six years old. He was black, and sitting up on his dad’s shoulders. He had an Obama-Biden sign, and for what I swear was about 3 hours straight, he held the sign straight up, with the most determined look I had ever seen on a six-year-old’s face. And then this other kid appeared, a white kid, on his dad’s shoulders. And all of a sudden they were sharing the sign back and forth. And then, then they held it together. And…it was so simple, SO simple. Yet, at the same time, it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, and the great part was that they had no idea what they were doing. Everyone looked at them, people took pictures, but they were just holding a sign. “Little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls…” It was so simple.
Klein’s story is more consistent with the photos (you can find the full sequence of six photos on Nida's page at Flickr). So who do we believe – the photos or the photographer?

*The voice of Jerry Mahoney or Tigger, depending on how old you are.


Anonymous said...

I am the photographer, and I added two photos of the black kid holding the sign from earlier to my flickr account. Maybe the other person just happened to look over when the white kid already had the sign.

Jay Livingston said...

Nida, Thanks for coming to the Socioblog. And thanks for clarifying the story and posting the new pictures. I really like the one with the light hitting the flag.