Danielle Canada

Civil Rights Photographer Ernest C. Withers Revealed As FBI Informant


Famed civil rights photographer Ernest C. Withers has been revealed as an FBI informant.

Withers, who took the infamous shot of Emmett Till’s body in a casket, has been outed by Memphis newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, who conducted a two year investigation into his life.

According to The Appeal, the photographer who worked alongside Dr. King provided the FBI with pictures and detailed information about the schedules and whereabouts of key civil rights leaders.

Speaking to The New York Times, historian Athan Theoharis calls the discovery an “amazing betrayal.”

It is an amazing betrayal…It really speaks to the degree that the FBI was able to engage individuals within the civil rights movement. This man was so well-trusted.”

In most FBI documents Withers named was hidden and he was referred to as “ME 338-R”, in several documents however, The Appeal says agents forgot to cover his name.

Withers daughter has since spoken out on the allegations and says she’s not convinced.
This is the first time I’ve heard of this in my life…My father’s not here to defend himself.”

Several scholars including Dr. Boyce Watkins have considered the implications of this discovery, including the fact that Withers was present at the Lorraine Motel at the time of Dr. King’s untimely death.

“The fact that Withers “just happened” to be at the Lorraine Motel at the time of King’s death as well as the fact that he’d gained so much of Dr. King’s trust, makes us only contemplate the unthinkable.”

Withers passed away in 2007 from complications from a stroke.

Comment Comments: 9 Tags Tags: martin luther king jr, emmett till

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  • baybaybay

    This doesn’t surprise me one bit that people in the civil rights leaders inner circle people he trusted were actually spies and turncoats telling his business to the enemie and people against the struggle it happens all the time that is why you can’t trust anybody.

  • missvalz

    WOW, even if it is truth to this what can this information possibly do to better the US. Not a damn thing sometimes things are better left alone. And dont you all see THEY (you all know who I mean) will do anything to take any good in our history and make bad or light of it. I its a THEY who found this article and published it. OKAY AND WHAT HE’S STILL THE PHOTOGRAPHER WHO TOOK THE HORRIBLE PICTURE OF EMMETT TILL DOES THAT TAKE AWAY FROM THAT.

  • Realfolk

    This is heavy…why come everything i learn about the government is bad?

  • Brenda Jackson

    First, get his name correct, and secondly, we know what the media can do! It is not surprising that something like this would be put out just as the museum in his honor is about to be opened… perhaps someone else wants the space.

    My uncle, Ernest C. Withers, was a straight shooter, and anything he had to say about Dr. King, or any other civil rights leader, including pictures, was public knowledge.

    If you knew anything about him, you’d know that he sold rolls of his film to white reports just to feed his family! Why would this reporter wait three years after his death to “reveal” such information? Why didn’t he release this information while the man was alive, and could talk for himself on these accusations?

    This is just like America, wait until they can’t speak for themselves… because the public will believe anything! Nonethe less, his pictures tell the story.


    This place we call the land of the free is made up of the (1% ers) that run everything & (99 %) get F**ked out of all our money to fight wars & make our own ppl sellout the ppl thats trying 2 make it better 4 the Have-Not’s. If he was really a imformant for the Goverment/ FBI then he had something 2 do with MLK getting killed.Thats like pulling out the gun ourself. SELLOUT your ppl for what. BIGGEST SELLOUT EVER (if its true)

  • tg

    Ok – is it put black snitches on BLAST week.

  • Shebad

    Only goes t show how black ppl corrupt and betray and kill one another, if this is true you could say he may very well b the reason Dr King is no longer with us, but if it’s not true “they” are just throwing dirt on another black man’s name.

  • Ka$h

    So ya’ll gonna believe what THEIR newspapers and people are saying? Lol…

    Get outta here with all that. I want to SEE the files…I want to HEAR it from the sources who claim he was a snitch.

    Oh, and remember…it’s not THEM who are our worst ENEMY (not enemie), it’s us. We can’t spell, we can’t put sentences together (Why Come…really?)…

    We gotta do better. Quit worrying about the newspapers and govt. tarnishing our people’s names, because they are going to do that regardless….

    We need to focus on bettering ourselves

  • Ohreallynow!

    @ka$h, wut are YOU doing to better black ppl lives? Or your own?Just wondering? And since you big on grammar it’s not ” why come” it’s how come!