Celebrated civil rights photographer outed as paid FBI informant

Ernest C. Withers, one of the most celebrated photographers of the civil rights era, was a paid F.B.I. informant.

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  1. I feel so much safer now. Thank you FBI from protecting me from civil rights activists.

    And thank you again TSA for providing such good security theater. Great job protecting me from those potentially dangerous fetuses (fetii?)

    Oh, and thanks for that war on drugs. It’s been a great help.

  2. Photography doesn’t always pay the bills and hippies weren’t known to be big spenders. Rent is always due.

    1. hippies weren’t known to be big spenders.

      [cough]

      Rent is always due.

      I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be homeless than sell out my fellow man. I bet you’re a conservative, aren’t you?

  3. Wow, that’s truly shocking. It completely recontextualizes a lifetime of astonishing work. That’s just… wow.

  4. Hmm, Hoover-ian FBI during the beginning of the civil rights movement. How convenient for the FBI to have papers accusing a key cultural figure in the movement. Not too extreme compared to, say, assassinating black leaders.

    BTW, how Hoover-ian is the FBI these days? Quite a demoralizing revelation for the hard left even in these current politically contentious times.

    I don’t pretend to know. But I am not hasty to declare a major player trustworthy when betrayal is the name of the game.

  5. What does that even mean, though? That he “provided” to the FBI what he was providing to the rest of the world? Seriously, I got more out of William Shatner’s “screen test” (linked off to the side) than I did from this. Hmmph.

  6. “I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be homeless than sell out my fellow man. I bet you’re a conservative, aren’t you?”

    heh… and THEN you Really have to make this choice, and somehow, after some time, you’re still not homeless.

  7. If it’s true of course. Sounds like a smear campaign to me. After all who gains by the clerical error? ooh lets the see the FBI!! All this story does is destabilize the Civil Rights movement something the FBI would have no problem with.

    1. Uhhhhhhh. You are definitely missing the point. The man was celebrated for his photographs and his access, which he would not have taken nor had if he had been an honest man,

      which he, apparently, was not

      Legacy Fail.

  8. Here’s the thing about being a paid informant: if the information you provide isn’t overly useful in getting folks arrested, then there’s not really a problem. FBI wanted information proving various criminal activities they could use to shut up civil rights leaders. If the information Mr Withers was paid for did not do this then I don’t see the problem. You can bribe me as much as you want, but I make no promises about doing what you tell me.

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