The Girl in the Kent State Photo
April 25, 2021 10:11 AM Subscribe
The Girl in the Kent State Photo — In 1970, an image of a dead protester immediately became iconic. But what happened to the 14-year-old kneeling next to him? (alternate links: 1, 2, 3)
Last May, however, when she watched the video of George Floyd’s death, she was so shaken, it was as if the electronic scrim of her TV had dissolved. She jumped off her couch and yelled at the crowd in the video, “Why is no one helping him?” She sobs as she describes that moment to me. “Doesn’t anyone see what’s going on?”
“Mary Ann,” I say. “It seems to me that you’re still that girl in the photo, you’re still that girl saying, ‘Doesn’t anyone see what’s happening here?’”
She stops crying abruptly. “But it’s been 50 years,” she says. “Why can’t I move on?”
What would it take to move on? I ask.
“Maybe if I do some good for the planet,” she says. She tells me that she does small, secret acts of charity every weekend, when she goes “undercover” to the Walmart parking lot near her home and leaves canned foods, staples and her homegrown avocados in an empty shopping cart for someone to discover. “I feel like I need to do something good,” she says, crying again.
You’ve already done something profoundly good, I tell her. “In that moment when you knelt over Jeffrey Miller’s body,” I say, “you expressed the grief and horror that so many people were feeling. You helped end the Vietnam War.”
“You can say that,” she says, “but I can’t feel it.”