Memphis' Withers Gallery and Museum added to Civil Rights Trail
The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery is the newest Tennessee site along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Memphis Tourism and Travel South USA announced today. The new site along Beale Street in Memphis joins other landmarks for a total of 15 Tennessee stops along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.
“What happened in Tennessee during the Civil Rights Movement changed the world,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “The Withers’ Gallery and sites like the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis commemorate the movement and share the brave and impactful stories that changed the trajectory of our nation.”
“The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery significantly enhances the historical legacy of Memphis and Tennessee’s role during the Civil Rights Movement,” said Mark Ezell, Tennessee Tourism Commissioner and Chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Marketing Alliance. “We’re engaging with Withers and our sites to bring awareness to immersive cultural travel experiences to help visitors learn from the past and build hope for our future.”
Ernest C. Withers was an acclaimed photographer. Some of his most famous shots are those taken during his coverage of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike in 1968, which culminated in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Through the power of photographs and stories, the Withers’ collection tells the story of Memphis and broader American history in the Civil Rights Movement.
"We feel quite honored and privileged to be able to share my dad's work with a broader audience by being added to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail," said Rosalind Withers, director of The Withers Collection Museum and daughter of Ernest Withers. "His body of work is a pictorial reflection of our southern region's history that is so appreciated by thousands when they walk into our museum. The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery is a compass of what many can expect to see while visiting our beautiful city, Memphis, covering civil rights, music, entertainment, sports, and our lifestyle of southern culture covering 60 years of its pictorial history from the early 1940s."
The new addition makes 15 Tennessee sites along the U.S. Civil Rights, including the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville and Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton. Visitors can plan a Tennessee Civil Rights Trail road trip and explore the state’s pivotal role in advancing social justice.
“Having the Withers Collection Museum & Gallery on Beale Street added to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a significant honor for both the Withers family, and our destination,” said Kevin Kane, President and CEO of Memphis Tourism. “Ernest Withers' photography captured impactful moments during the civil rights movement, highlighting the bravery and determination of those fighting for equality. We are proud to have his legacy as part of the Memphis and Beale Street story, and the museum's collection recognized as essential to our city and nation's history. This inclusion also raises additional awareness of the historic Beale Street site, encouraging locals and visitors to engage and learn from the powerful stories that the Withers Museum preserves and shares."
Memphis sites along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail were pivotal in the movement and highlight legacy and the powerful reminder of the struggles and sacrifices made by activists to achieve equality and justice for all. These landmarks serve as a source of education and inspiration for future generations, ensuring the Civil Rights Movement is not forgotten and provides a space for reflection and remembrance.
The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery joins three other new sites along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, including The International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina, The Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail in Virginia, and Holt Street Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks across 14 states that played a pivotal role in advancing social justice in the 1950s and 1960s, shifting the course of history. The U.S. Civil Rights Trail Podcast channel was recognized with a U.S. Travel Industry Mercury Award nomination in 2022 for excellence and creativity accommodations. The podcast features in-depth interviews and looks at pivotal moments throughout history. Listen to Tennessee’s Civil Rights Trail three-episode podcast about Nashville, Memphis and Clinton.