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    Ernest Withers (American, 1922-2007). 28 photographs taken at the Cotton Makers' Jubilee, Memphis, 1959

    Ernest C. Withers was born on August 7, 1922, in Memphis, Tennessee. His career began while serving as a military photographer in the Pacific during WWII. Upon returning to a segregated Memphis after the war, Withers chose photography as a profession and helped spur the civil rights movement with a self-published photo pamphlet of the Emmitt Till murder. Over the next two decades he formed close and personal relationships with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers and James Meredith. His pictures of key civil rights events from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the strike of Memphis sanitation workers are historic. In his more than 60-year career, Withers accumulated a collection of an estimated five million photographs.

    The Memphis Cotton Makers' Jubilee was founded by Dr. R. Q. Vinson in 1935 as a protest to establish dignity and respect for African-American men and women. It opened with a big parade on Beale Street and ran concurrently with the tacitly whites only Cotton Carnival as a parallel festival. The Jubilee enjoyed its most successful years from 1948 to 1958. This collection is one of the only known photographic documentation of the Jubilee and the only known commissioned series produced by Ernest Withers. All examples are uniform in size, 8" x 10" and most bear Withers' studio stamp on the verso. Examples include:

    Jubilee Royal Court.
    10" x 8"
    Memphis, 1959

    The image features Jubilee King James Parker and Queen Kay Roslyn Clark and their court.

    Jubilee Grand Marshall.
    10" x 8"
    Memphis, 1959

    The Grand Marshall exits from a 1959 MGA convertible.

    Porter Jr. High School Dancing School Marchers.
    8" x 10"
    Memphis, 1959

    Children's Parade.
    10" x 8"
    Memphis, 1959

    The additional photographs provide an excellent overview of the festivities.

    Condition: Excellent. There are areas of trivial wear and soiling.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2019
    15th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 799

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