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Mom wants photo of son on leash out of yearbook

Associated Press
Published May 19, 2005

BOYNTON BEACH - The mother of a high school senior elected "most whipped" by his classmates has asked for a recall of Boynton Beach High School's yearbook over a photograph of her son wearing a collar and leash.

Robert Richards, 19, was photographed with then-girlfriend Melissa Finley, who was holding the leash. Richards is black and Finley is white.

Richards' mother, Jacqueline Nobles, said the picture reminded her of slavery. "I know it's supposed to be in fun, but there are people still having trouble with African-Americans' past and this will be offensive," Nobles said. "This picture, to me, is very distasteful."

School district spokesman Nat Harrington agreed the picture was inappropriate. He said there could be "serious disciplinary consequences" for the yearbook adviser and "anyone else who should have brought it to the forefront for review before it was published."

About 240 copies of the yearbook were distributed before Nobles complained. The principal is holding the remaining 460.

But Richards, who came up with the idea for the pose, said he and Finley don't find the picture offensive. He said he and his peers are less conscious of race than older generations.

"We don't see a problem with it," Richards said. "If there was a black girl doing this in the picture, it wouldn't be an issue."

[Last modified May 19, 2005, 00:42:10]

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