Movement harassed by the FBI
Students need to know of attempts to discredit civil rights leaders.

By Jonathan Zimmerman

So it turns out that Martin Luther King Jr.’s most trusted photographer was actually a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, passing along material about King and other civil rights leaders. Why did he do it?

That’s the wrong question. Nobody will ever know why Ernest C. Withers – who was in King’s motel room on the night of his murder – informed for the FBI, as a Memphis newspaper reported last week. Withers died in 2007, following a brilliant career that earned him the nickname of “Original Civil Rights Photographer.” He had secrets, and he took them to the grave.

Instead, we should be asking why the FBI was paying people to spy on King. And, most of all, we should be asking why our kids don’t know it.


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