Racist Image Featuring MLK Published in High School Yearbook Prompts Investigation

A racist photo published in a Georgia high school yearbook is now being investigated by the school, according to a letter from the school's principal.

"This is unacceptable and we are currently investigating to determine who submitted this photo and how our processes did not address this before it went to print," Collins Hill High School Principal Keresena Wing wrote in her apology addressed to the families and staff of the school, which is located in Gwinnett County.

The photo shows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. photoshopped behind a male student holding a binder that reads "Official N-word Pass."

Wing called the image "inappropriate and racist," and said the school "will take appropriate action with those involved" once the investigation is completed.

Some pages of the yearbook had not been completed before in-person classes ended on March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Georgia public schools are closed through to the end of the school year.

As a result, Wing says the yearbook company replaced the incomplete pages with selfies that senior students submitted and the picture in question was not caught before the yearbook went to press.

The photo was submitted by the school's yearbook, staff but it is unclear if the young man in the photo had a role in the photoshopping or if it was done without his knowledge.

The yearbook company is currently printing a sticker of a replacement photo for students who have already received the yearbook, and the school is blocking the image from the yearbooks that have yet to be distributed.

However, some students are still coming to terms with what to do with their copy of the yearbook. Graduating senior Aaliyah Williams told WSB-TV: "Me scratching it out, it's not going to do anything. I've already seen it and it's already affected me. So there is no point of me keeping that."

"When I looked at it, I thought, 'Oh my God. This is real?' This is, like, people take out the time to do this and think it's a joke," she added.

Another graduating student called the image "very disrespectful."

"He basically reduced this amazing civil rights leader who did a lot for the black community," Milan Broughton told CBS 46. "Everyone's saying they want their money back because it's been a horrible year book that they didn't proof read properly, and they let something as serious as MLK by."

Newsweek reached out to Collins Hill High School for comment but did not hear back before publication.

Georgia high school yearbook photo
Screenshot of a controversial photo published in a high school yearbook in Georgia (WSB-TV). WSB-TV