Offering a superb 8 x 10 black and white photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a number of his supporters, including Stokely Carmichael – taken and autographed by the famed African American photographer Ernest C. Withers of Memphis, TN. The photograph also has two back stamps by Withers on the verso. Withers was not only a great photographer who recorded Civil Rights history up close, he was also an FBI informant.
In fairness to Withers, he may have felt compelled to agree to serve the FBI, as agents could be quite forceful in their requests and he was an African American. At the time, African Americans didn’t universally enjoy the right to vote.
It difficult to say for certain what event this photograph represented, but it could have been James Meredith’s March Against Fear in Memphis. In 1962, Meredith became the first African American student at the University of Mississippi. In 1966, Meredith challenged America’s social system of poverty and racial segregation by vowing to walk alone from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi. Meredith was shot on the second day of his journey. He survived but King, Stokely Carmichael and Floyd McKissick, among others, vowed to continue the Meredith’s march and are seen in this photograph.
While we’re not completely certain of the identities of all those in the photograph, to the best of our ability and agreement of others, we believe those clockwise behind Dr. King are Floyd McKissick, Robert Green, Stokely Carmichael and Bernard Scott Lee.
Floyd McKissick became the first African American student at the University of North Carolina. In 1966, he became the leader of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). A supporter of Black Power, he turned CORE into a more radical movement. He endorsed Richard Nixon for president in 1968 and the federal government under President Nixon supported McKissick’s Soul City, a planned community in North Carolina.
Robert Green was a civil rights pioneer and a close friend and colleague of Dr. King’s. He served as the education director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1965-1967 and as a consultant for many of the nation’s largest school districts. He was also known as an expert on education, urban development and issues relating to diversity. When realtors tried to prevent Dr. Green from buying a home in East Lansing, Michigan, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision ending restrictive housing, Dr. Green filed a complaint with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, which led the commission to order a local realty company to sell to him.
Stokely Carmichael originated the Black nationalism rallying slogan “Black power.” Born in Trinidad, he immigrated to New York City in 1952. While attending Howard University, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was jailed for his work with Freedom Riders. He spent time with and supported Dr. King’s non-violent philosophy but later moved away from it to self-defense.
Bernard Scott Lee was a student leader who became Dr. King’s personal assistant and traveling companion throughout the 1960s. Lee defended King from pushy reporters, shepherding him to engagements and providing a sounding board for new ideas.
Two small border tears at the bottom and right margins. Several creases along the edges. A few stray ink spots, which may have been in the developing wash. Still, a phenomenal example of Civil Rights history, not only featuring Dr. King as the leader of the movement, but some of his major supporters at the time and signed by Ernest C. Withers in the lower right corner.
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