Ernest Withers

September 15, 2010 by USA Post 

Ernest Withers, Ernest Withers will be recorded as one of the photographers of the most important civil rights of his time.

Since the protests of school integration in Little Rock, the Montgomery bus boycott, and then to the health workers’ strike in Memphis, Cruz and his camera caught everything – people, places, the momentous events that changed the South of a segregated society grudgingly integrated.

Everyone in the civil rights movement knew Ernest Withers. For 40 years, slipped through the doors in private meetings and privileged to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew Young, Medgar Evers, James Meredith, the Rev. James Lawson and hundreds of others defined the civil rights movement in the USA.

And also worked as an informant for the FBI.

The surprising news is detailed in today’s Commercial Appeal. It’s a wrinkle in the story about the importance of a free press and good information.

The family members, who survive Ernest Withers, never knew he was an informant.

The people he never knew photographed.

A man who was a confidence documentary civil rights movement had a secret that may well have altered history and will surely change your own legacy.

Reporter Marc Perrusquia first learned of Ernest Withers, being an FBI informant for over a decade. The smell that fades out spying for the FBI at the time that James Earl Ray was spinning all kinds of tales conspiracy designed to alter his infamous place in history as the murderer of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ray lawyers wondered why surveillance widely known the king stopped suddenly in April 1968 when the King returned to Memphis for one last time.

The reason apparently is that the FBI had inside information on the ground to keep them informed of the activities of King. That informant, federal officials said, was Ernest Withers.

Which is not to say that Cruz was involved in any way in the assassination of King. He was not. Withers and loyalty to the cause of civil rights can never be safely questioned. It was obvious that he worked hard for civil rights and worked diligently with his camera to document the movement and support.

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