First Desegregated Bus Ride, Montgomery, AL, Dec. 1956


Ernest Withers (American, 1922–2007)




Gelatin silver print


Contact the museum for more information


Purchase with funds from the Director's Circle

Accession #


On View

Currently not on view

Working as a self-employed photographer based in Memphis, Ernest Withers was well positioned to record a turbulent period in the American South. With photographic subjects ranging from the civil rights movement to the baseball players of the Diamond League to the blues and jazz performers in his hometown, Withers was always close to his subject matter. He could be called the original photographer of the civil rights movement, as his photographs constitute the most comprehensive documentation of that period in the South. Withers produced a book on the Emmett Till murder that contributed to the push toward equal rights. This photograph is included in a portfolio titled "I Am a Man," which features several iconic images, including this record of the first desegregated bus ride with Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ralph David Abernathy.

Image Copyright

© Dr. Ernest C. Withers, Sr.