Ernest C. Withers was one of the most prominent African-American photographers during the civil rights years. During the course of his work, he took thousands photographs that document the Movement―from the Emmett Till trial in 1955 to the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.
What set his work apart was that he goes beyond the political struggles to show the human face of Movement. Withers worked primarily a local photographer, as a freelancer for the Memphis World and Tri-State Defender starting in 1948.
His photographs of the everyday world―proms, funerals, people at work and play, and street life―create a stunning record of what it was like to live in Memphis and the Mid-South. He was also a noted baseball photographer, documenting Negro League baseball, and a noted music photographer, taking thousands of photographs of early jazz, blues, rock ’n’ roll and R&B performers.
This book combines all of his work for the first time and uses first-hand accounts from men and women who lived in the South to explain these transformative years. The photographs, taken as bare-bones journalism, rise to the level of fine art decades later.
They are also important examples of photojournalism, documenting decades of struggle in Memphis and the Mid-South. They serve as an important missing link in the civil rights narrative.
This book goes beyond the headlines to show how Withers created an essential record for all of us to better understand life in the South during this crucial era.