New Documents Show Withers Photographed MLK Staff

New records released under a settlement of The Commercial Appeal’s lawsuit against the FBI show the extent to which civil rights movement photographer Ernest Withers provided information to the bureau. Among the 785 pages of documents released, according to the Associated Press, are photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s staff, including a top aid and a Southern Christian Leadership Conference field organizer. Also included are photographs of King supporters reacting to his death and one of King’s widow speaking after the assassination. Although Withers did little direct informing on King, his reports to the agency on others are indicative of what one historian calls a "vacuum cleaner approach" to FBI surveillance: collecting everything possible for possible later use.