Seeing Civil Rights Symposium

03/28/2018 6:00 PM - 03/29/2018 7:00 PM

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art map


Seeing Civil Rights explores how Ernest C. Withers and his contemporaries imagined photography’s dual role as an art form and a tool for political change. It brings together esteemed and provocative scholars, writers, and artists to address how photographs shaped the immediate reception of the civil rights movement and continues to impact how we remember it.

Held in conjunction with Black Resistance: Ernest C. Withers and the Civil Rights Movement.

Please register for the specific events you plan to attend.


Co-organized by the University of Memphis Department of English.

Sponsored by George A. Riley Memorial Fund, the U of M Department of English, U of M Department of History, and the Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities.

Wednesday, March 28
6 p.m. Opening Keynote - Re-Framing Civil Rights and the Photograph: A lecture by Deborah Willis, Ph.D.
Dr. Deborah Willis will discuss how images, whether journalistic or documentary, are forever fixed in the popular imagination through photography. 

Thursday, March 29 
1 p.m. Panel 1 – Feeling Through Photography

  • Aram Goudsouzian, University of Memphis

  • Martin A. Berger, University of California, Santa Cruz

  • Moderator: Vincent Gaddis, Benedictine University

3 p.m. Panel 2 – Seeing Behind the Pictures

  • Preston Lauterbach, Virginia Foundation for Humanities

  • Leigh Raiford, University of California Berkeley

  • Moderator: Joseph Coulson, The Great Books Foundation

4:30 p.m. Guided Tour of Black Resistance: Ernest C. Withers and the Civil Rights Movement
5 p.m. Reception
6 p.m. Closing Keynote – Known and Strange Things: An Evening with Teju Cole
Writer, art historian, and photographer Teju Cole will talk about his newest collection of essays, Known and Strange Things, which includes more than 50 pieces on politics, photography, travel, history, and literature. 

Ernest C. Withers, American, 1922 – 2007, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, Memphis, March 28. 1968, Gelatin silver print, printed from original negative in 1999, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art purchase with funds provided by Ernest and Dorothy Withers, Panopticon Gallery, Inc., Waltham, MA, Landon and Carol Butler, The Deupree Family Foundation, and The Turley Foundation  2005.3.33 © Withers Family Trust