Ernest Withers museum to open early next year

By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A museum featuring the work of a civil rights icon will open early next year, organizers said Thursday.

A vast collection of Ernest Withers' work will soon be displayed at the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery on Beale Street.  The Withers archive consists of more than one million images, including everything from Memphis music, to the Emmett Till murder trial, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

David Simmons, a long-time friend who did business with Withers, will serve as the museum's curator.

"Most of the work I did with Mr. Withers was on the music end of things," he said. "As you can see, they are just iconic and just as powerful in their own right."

Though Withers died in 2007, he was recently in the spotlight after allegations surfaced that he had done double duty as an FBI informant, divulging the most intimate and potentially damaging secrets of his confidants to the government.

"We are actually in our research for the truth," said his daughter, Rosalind Withers-Guzman. "We've requested documents and we're still doing our research.  We're not in a position to comment because we don't have the facts, but we will soon."

Withers-Guzman says while her family continues to look into the allegations, she hopes her father's work will inspire those who come to see it.

"Pictures tell the story and they tell the truth, and it leaves an impression," she said.

The museum will open on February 5.

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