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Ernest Withers died last Monday. It is indicative of the overall malaise affecting Memphis that it took more than a week for me to find that out.

Mr. Withers was a man interested all his life in interesting things. Peculiar praise at first blush, perhaps, but think about it. All his life this unassuming, yet charming man, diminutive and unerringly polite, carried his camera to every fascinating event which crossed his path and often when they weren't gonna cross his path he went to them.
Why did Mr. Withers cross the road? To get to best, the most important moments of his time.
The Times ran an obituary, which you should read if you've no idea who i'm talking about.

I first heard of Ernest Withers when Stanley was going to write a biography of Waylon Jennings. Because, you see, in addition to chronicling Negro League Baseball and having taken pictures of just about every important moment in the Civil Right movement (including Jesse Jackson's handprints in Rev. King's blood on the balcony of the Lorraine) Ernest had also taken a pile of pictures of Waylon back when he too was an interesting fella living in Memphis.

Later, I had the great pleasure of meeting and talking with him. A storyteller in the best school, he remembered everything -- the context, the little personal foibles, the details of tragedy, heroism, and farce that he'd seen along the way. The world is a poorer place without him. And the pictures, perfect thought they are, are small consolation of the loss of the man.


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April 2017

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