So as I am preparing my lecture for my “History of the Civil Rights Movement” class (that meets at 8AM Wednesday), I get a call from someone who identifies himself as a producer for CBS News. He wants to discuss coming to interview me about the Memphis-based photographer Ernest Withers. A couple of days ago Marc Perrusquia, a reporter with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, wrote an extensive story outing Withers as a paid FBI informant.
What is the news here? Numerous historians have made it clear that the FBI spied on and waged counterinsurgency warfare against the Black Freedom Struggle (from Jack Johnson and Marcus Garvey to Martin Luther King and Angela Davis). Is the new twist that an African American photographer who was seen as an ally of the movement has been revealed to be a double agent? See below for a link to the story.
O, as Brother Bob say, “I’ll never forget no way how they crucify Jesus Christ. And I’ll never forget how they sold Marcus Garvey for rice. I’ll never forget how they turn their back on Paul Bogle. So don’t you forget, no way. Who you are and where you stand in the struggle.” Rasta don’t work for no CIA or FBI, but blacks have done so and these intelligence agencies have used them at times skillfully and at times clumsily. We should dig out and study such cases, but the media interest must raise skeptical eyes too.