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Civil Rights Movement Series

Civil Rights Movement on Film

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With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Monday, January 19, 2004
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Ernest C. Withers talks about his photojournalism career, which took him on travels with Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and other figures in the civil rights movement. As a freelance journalist for African American newspapers, he captured on film the momentous events of the 1950s and 60s as they unfolded. Withers shares his experiences and images of events that altered the course of American history in a memorable Martin Luther King Jr. Day presentation.

Ernest C. Withers, a photographer whose voluminous catalog of arresting black-and-white images illustrates a history of life in the segregated South in the 1950s and 1960s, from the civil rights movement to the Beale Street music scene, died in Memphis at age 85. Ernest C. Withers was born on Aug. 7, 1922, in Memphis. He worked as a photographer in the Army in World War II and started a studio when he returned. He also worked for about three years as one of the first nine African-American police officers in Memphis. Besides his son Joshua, also known as Billy, Mr. Withers is survived by his wife, Dorothy; two other sons, Andrew Jerome and Perry, both of Memphis; a daughter, Rosalind, of West Palm Beach, Fla.; 15 grandchildren; and 8 great-grandchildren. Besides documenting music and civil rights, Mr. Withers also turned his lens on the last great years of Negro League baseball. His work appeared in publications like *Time*, *Newsweek* and *The New York Times* and has been collected in four books: *Let Us March On*, *Pictures Tell the Story*, *The Memphis Blues Again* and *Negro League Baseball*.

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