Wednesday, September 15, 2010

That photographer’s a spy

Ernest Withers That photographer's a spy (spoken in the voice of a TF2 engineer). That’s what people must be saying about Ernest C. Withers. It appears that the famous civil rights photographer was a spy for the FBI.

On Sunday, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis published the results of a two-year investigation that showed Mr. Withers, who died in 2007 at age 85, had collaborated closelyking with two F.B.I. agents in the 1960s to keep tabs on the civil rights movement. It was an astonishing revelation about a former police officer nicknamed the Original Civil Rights Photographer, whose previous claim to fame had been the trust he engendered among high-ranking civil rights leaders, including Dr. King.

How do you live with yourself after gaining the trust of important people and then betray them? He was in the King’s hotel room the night he was shot. Damn, that’s just cold.

I know Withers from his picture of Martin Luther King (shown above), but I must add, besides this picture and few others, I am not a fan of his work. He takes uninspired snapshots. I don’t think I’m judging too harshly either. He had access, which gave him a chance at good newsworthy pictures, but most of non-newsworthy stuff was pedestrian. I looked at his, “Pictures Tell the Story” photo book at a shop a few years ago. I was not impressed. I’m even less impressed now that I know he was a traitor too.