Breaking News
More () »

Withers Collection Museum works to bring more visitors during pandemic

“There’s a real quest for knowledge and information especially as it relates to the Black community," said Joe Calhoun.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As we celebrate Black History Month, we also celebrate the Mid-South and its contribution to that history.

From the Mule Train in Marks, Mississippi, to the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, it is important to honor our history and pay respect to those who shaped it.

At the Withers Collection Museum, that history is told every day.

Ernest C. Withers was a photographer responsible for much of the photographs taken during the Civil Rights Era. 

He was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s personal photographer for 12 years, B.B. King’s personal photographer for 22 years, and also photographed Elvis.

Since the start of the pandemic, The Withers Collection Museum has struggled. They rely heavily on foot traffic, which significantly died down when the Mid-South was shut down due to COVID-19.

After restrictions lifted last year, the museum has concentrated on bringing more area students to the museum. They have also added special programs each fourth Tuesday of the month.

This month’s program focuses on Black history with discussions about our unsung heroes.

Joe Calhoun, Withers Collection Museum Operations Manager, said it is important to tell these stories and keep the history alive.

“There’s a real quest for knowledge and information, especially as it relates to the Black community because of the suppression of Black information. The critical race theory concept is trying to erase some of the history. History is history whether good or bad. It’s history and you can’t erase it. We as well as other entities throughout the country are making sure that it’s told properly,” said Calhoun.

Calhoun helped organize and marched in the 1968 Sanitations Workers’ Strike. He has been advocating for civil right for decade. He said these discussions around Black history are needed, especially today.

“What that did is it showed how wide the divide is, and it’s not regional. It’s national. People think about the south as being where a lot of racism occurs, but it’s all over. It just takes different forms. Once we have those conversations, we can come to some understanding of how we can co-exist together,” said Calhoun.

The next program at the Withers Collection Museum is February 22nd.


Posted by Withers Collection Museum & Gallery on Friday, October 29, 2021

RELATED: Memphians Celebrate Memphis by sharing their heroes

Before You Leave, Check This Out