From the 1940s to 1970s, Dr. Ernest C. Withers was the primary visual chronicler of the parallel society blacks occupied below the Mason-Dixon line Working for largely black newspapers like the Tri-State Defender and Amsterdam News, Withers shot an estimated 5 million exposures of a changing South and the people who shaped those changes. Withers’ works are highly respected internationally and have been featured in many books and publications.
He documented the dusty ball fields of the Negro Diamond Baseball League and the popular athletes prevented from playing in the all-white majors. He photographed the roadhouses and ballrooms where Howling Wolf, Tina Tuner and Elvis were making music that would revolutionize society by bringing black and white kids together.
The remarkable arc of Withers’ career will be on view at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center through 60 images that will remind viewers of stories that should be remembered but have too often been forgotten. The exhibit will be housed in the museum gallery November 1, 2013 – March 1, 2014. photo credit: Ernest Withers, I Am a Man, 1968
This exhibit was made possible with support from Commissioner Warren Mackey – Hamilton County