Memphis International Airport Notes

April 2008
Special Edition

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Mayor A C Wharton Unveils Withers Collection at the Memphis International Airport

The work of the late photographer of the Civil Rights Movement, Ernest Withers is shared in line with local events celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mayor A C Wharton formally opened an exhibit of photographs from renowned Memphis photojournalist Ernest C. Withers at the Memphis International Airport. Included in this collection are a number of candid photographs documenting Dr. King's last days in Memphis and the events following his assassination on April 4, 1968.


Mayor Wharton being photographed by Andrew Withers, son of Ernest Withers
Click to enlarge image.

Mayor Wharton said, "These photographs poignantly capture a piece of critical time in American history. Ernest Withers was an extraordinarily talented artist who, with the click of a camera, was able to preserve the tenure and tone of a turbulent time of our country's past."

Mayor Wharton added, "We are privileged to have the opportunity to share his powerful work with a broad audience, and hope that this exhibit will stimulate interest in preserving and restoring the other pieces in Mr. Withers' vast collection which is a true national treasure." Officials attending the opening included Larry Cox, President and CEO of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA), Arnold Perl, Chair of the Board, MSCAA; former U. S. Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater, and Joshua and Andrew Withers, sons of the late Ernest C. Withers.

Known for his tremendous volume of work and incomparable style, Ernest C. Withers emerged as one of the foremost historians of the Civil Rights Movement, capturing major moments and significant personalities through the eyes of his camera lens.

He photographed many of the most notable figures of the 20th Century. In addition to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, some of the notable individuals he caught on film include President John F. Kennedy, Mahalia Jackson, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, President Richard Nixon, Elvis Presley, Isaac Hayes, and James Brown. His photos have often appeared in Time, Life, Newsweek, Jet and Ebony Magazines.

The exhibit will be hosted by MSCAA throughout the month of April. It is located in Concourse B just beyond the security checkpoint. The central location will allow thousands of travelers daily to catch a glimpse of this important piece of Memphis and American history.


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