Actor Courtney B. Vance is helping to highlight the historic images in the Withers Collection

Local Good News

Memphis, Tenn. ( – They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And a small little gallery, full of photographs, has brought an internationally-known actor to Memphis. Local 24 News Weeknight Anchor Katina Rankin has this local good news.

Courtney B. Vance is known for his acting role as lawyer Johnnie Cochran in the movie, “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and the television series, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” – just to name a few. But, he’s in the Bluff City because of this small gallery that sits at the end of Beale Street.

“I was told I had to go see the pictures, the photographs at the gallery,” said Vance.

The Ernest Withers Collection Museum and Gallery.

“I said, ‘What’s over here and what’s back there’,” said Vance.

It was 1.8-Million images. 

And when Vance saw them, he said, “This collection needs to be seen by the world.”

By the world because of the story they tell.

“As we were being lynched and burned and maimed, we still found a way to smile and laugh. There’s still joy. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy, hallelujah, comes in the morning,” said Vance. “The 1.8-Million pictures are history, black and white; and, there’s a healing quality to them.”

Photos from the Civil Rights Movement – to Blues and Jazz performers. Vance says Withers had an eye like no other to capture the images he did.

“He was an observer of life and from the everyday mundane to the heights of fame and everywhere in between,” said Vance.

All captured in the moment.

“That’s why I’m here and why I’ll stay,” said Vance.

Learn more about the Withers Collection HERE.

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