Ernest C. Withers was an African-American photojournalist. He documented over 60 years of African American history in the segregated South, with iconic images of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Emmett Till, Memphis sanitation strike, Negro league baseball, and musicians including those related to Memphis blues and Memphis soul.
In 2010, it was revealed that Withers was a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigations' COINTELPRO program.
This Museum & Gallery was Dr. Ernest C. Withers’ last working studio named in his honor in 1995, the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery is 7,000 square feet of Memphis and American History. In February 2011, The Withers Collection opened its doors to the public, inviting everyone to see what Dr. Ernest C. Withers had accomplished.
With close to 1.8 million images in the archive, you can imagine what a labor of love it was to sort, preserve, and print the images they chose to put on display, a labor of love that isn’t even close to completion.
The images on display range from key Civil Rights Movement events to legendary blues and jazz performers. Martin Luther King, Jr., B.B. King, “The King of Rock and Roll,” and “The Queen of Soul,” can all be seen, captured in their elements, in beautiful black and white photographs.