Judge Rules In Dispute Involving Family Of Famed Civil Rights Photographer Ernest Withers
(Memphis) Inside the Ernest Withers Collection Museum Gallery on Beale Street, the famed photographer’s daughter, museum president and trustee of her father’s work, Rasalind Withers, celebrates a courtroom victory today that pitted her against other family members.
“It is a victory for the trust. He (Judge Goldin) ruled in favor of the family keeping its property and equally dividing the proceeds,” Rosalind Withers said.
Rosalind Withers said this all started after the death of her father and mother, Dorothy, when her two brothers sued to buy out and sell the trust.
“The heart and soul of what Ernest Withers left is right here in the community. If we were to just pass this on to someone else or give it to someone else based on a dollar figure who knows what would be left out?”
She says this is also a victory for the community because of the work that can now continue.
“What we are doing is telling our history, our story, recording the history with a pictorial image to back up the events.”
Rosalind Withers was also battling accusations that surfaced that her father might have been a FBI informant during the civil rights movement and living a double life.
She says his book called “Pictures Tell The Story” will clear his name and in his own words.
“He states I tried to never to monitor what they were doing too closely. I was interested in the outside. I never tied to learn any high-powered secrets”
Rosalind Withers said. “It clearly clears up the double life. There is no way you can take from this he lived a double life.”
She said her focus now is working on efforts to expand the museum to 8,000 square feet and house the millions of photographs that chronicle the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, to Memphis music and baseball.
“This room is the actual theater and where the archives will be stored.”
The photographs, the stories and Memphis history preserved the way Rasalind Withers said her parents would have wanted.
“To come through and see what Memphis has gone through, this is priceless and that’s what keeps me going,”
To find out more about the Withers Collection Museum Gallery on Beale Street, you can visit their website at witherscollection.org