Ernest Withers

Ernest Withers

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Ernest Withers

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Ernest Withers (August 7, 1922 – October 15, 2007) was an African American freelance photographer famous for his black and white images of the segregated South in the 1950s and 60s, Negro league baseball, and the Memphis blues scene.

Early life

Withers was born in Memphis, Tennessee to a postal worker father and exhibited interest in photography from a young age. During World War II Withers received training at the Army School of Photography. After the war, Withers served as one of Memphis' first African American police officers.


His images captured America for nearly 60 years, preserving the good and the bad, in particular, racism. He traveled with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his public life. Withers' coverage of the Emmett Till murder trial brought national attention to the racial violence taking place during the 1950s in Mississippi, among other places. Withers appeared in a TV documentary about the murdered 14-year-old entitled The American Experience: The Murder of Emmett Till.

In 2007 Withers died from the complications of a stroke in his hometown of Memphis. Withers and his wife Dorothy had eight children together.

FBI informant

Evidence that surfaced in 2010 shows that in the years 1968 to 1970 Ernest Withers served as a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover. Withers reported on the activity of several Civil......
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