Jan. 16 Art Minute: Ernest C. Withers, ‘First Desegregated Bus Ride’

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Ernest C. Withers (American, 1922–2007), First Desegregated Bus Ride from the portfolio I Am A Man. Gelatin-silver print, 1956 (printed 1994). Toledo Museum of Art, Mrs. George W. Stevens Fund, 2003.46B

Ernest C. Withers (American, 1922–2007), First Desegregated Bus Ride from the portfolio I Am A Man. Gelatin-silver print, 1956 (printed 1994). Toledo Museum of Art, Mrs. George W. Stevens Fund, 2003.46B

African American freelance photographer Ernest Withers documented many of the most important events of the Civil Rights era, from the galvanizing murder trial of Emmett Till in 1955 through the Montgomery bus boycott; the marches of Martin Luther King, Jr.; the rise of Black Power; and King’s assassination. His insightful images had a wide impact, helping to enact social change. “I was trained as a high school student in history,” Withers said. “But I didn’t know that I would be recording the high multitude of imagery and history that I did record.” The I Am A Man portfolio of 10 photographs taken from 1956 through 1968 was assembled by Withers and published in 1994.


2 Responses to “Jan. 16 Art Minute: Ernest C. Withers, ‘First Desegregated Bus Ride’”

  1. Richard Elias says:

    Is that Rev. Ralph Abernathy front row right?

  2. Stephanie Elton says:

    It is, Richard. This photograph taken by Ernest Withers depicts Dr. Martin Luther King and Rev. Ralph Abernathy on the first desegregated bus, Montgomery, Alabama, December 1956.


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