At the top of the stairs he saw the blood, a large pool of it, splashed across the balcony like a grisly, abstract painting. Instinctively, Ernest Withers raised his camera. This wasn't just a murder. This was history.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood here a few hours earlier chatting with aides when a sniper squeezed off a shot from a hunting rifle.
Now, as night set over Memphis, Withers was on the story.
Slipping past a police barricade, the enterprising Beale Street newsman made his way to room 306 at the Lorraine Motel -- King's room -- and walked in. Ralph Abernathy and the others hardly blinked. After all, this was Ernest C. Withers. He'd marched with King, and sat in on some of the movement's sensitive strategy meetings.
A veteran freelancer for America's black press, Withers was known as "the original civil rights photographer,"…
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