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The Photographer Who Spied On Civil Rights Groups

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Rowland Scherman; restored by Adam Cuerden - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46527326
/
Martin Luther King in the 1963 March on Washington.

Ernest Withers is considered one of the great documentary photographers of the civil rights movement.

He was a confidant of Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers and James Meredith. His photos of pivotal events in the movement -- the Montgomery Bus boycott, the Memphis sanitation workers' strike, the murder of Emmett Till  -- can rightly be called iconic. There is a museum in Withers' home town of Memphis dedicated to his work.

But Withers had a secret: he was an FBI informant, and those iconic photos were often used by the Bureau to identify civil rights activists.

Memphis-based investigative journalist Marc Perrusqia has written an expose of Withers' double life, A Spy In Canaan.  Marc Perrusquia visits to unfold this surprising story.
 

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Geoffrey Riley is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has hosted the Jefferson Exchange on JPR since 2009. He's been a broadcaster in the Rogue Valley for over 35 years, working in both television and radio.
John Baxter's history at JPR reaches back three decades.  John was the JPR program director who was the architect of "the split" when JPR grew from a single program stream to three separate streams. We coaxed him out of retirement and he's now a co-producer of the Jefferson Exchange.
April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, she was a news host and reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.