Do What You Do

That quote comes from Jeff Roberts, the Birmingham News photojournalist who made the iconic image of a woman holding her two grandchildren after an April 2011 tornado wiped out their Alabama home. I am saddened to report that Jeff has passed.

We were privileged to have had him on campus as part of our McGill Symposium a year ago. I have never heard the Drewry Room be so quiet as it was that day, as Jeff struggled to tell the story of how he was caught in the tornado that wiped out his neighborhood, how he crawled out of his battered Volvo to see the devastation and then he did what he did – he started telling the story of what happened to his community.

At dinner, in talking with David Handschuh and me, Jeff said he had always dreamed of coming to Georgia, that he wanted to be a Bulldog. He may not have gotten the paperwork, but to those of us in the room, he became one.

In talking with my students after that day, the message Jeff had sent – intentionally or not – was that you had to care.

He did.



Mark E. Johnson

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