photo by Vance Lauderdale
More than any other Memphis photographer, Ernest C. Withers captured the African-American experience on film, and today it’s almost impossible to document the civil-rights experience without the use of his iconic images.
He passed away in 2007, and is buried in historic Elmwood Cemetery with his wife, Dorothy.
As a so-called historian, I thought I was familiar with the life and work of Mr. Withers. But on a recent visit to Elmwood, I was surprised (and pleased) to find that he is buried there beneath a stone that has been shaped and carved to resemble one of his ever-present cameras. Images of Ernest and his wife are etched into the surface of the stone, which carries two inscriptions: “One picture is worth a thousand words” and “Always on the scene.”
Many distinctive markers and memorials can be found at Elmwood. This is just one of them, which I wanted to share with you. I’ll post others from time to time, when I feel like it.