A spy in Canaan : how the FBI used a famous photographer to infiltrate the civil rights movement

Perrusquia, Marc author

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Creator Marc Perrusquia
  • Format Books
  • Publication Brooklyn ; London : Melville House, [2017] [Brooklyn] : Melville House, March 2018. ©2017
  • Physical Details
    • xvii, 349 pages, 8 pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
  • ISBNs 9781612193410, 1612193412, 9781612194400
  • OCLC on1029575603


  • "Ernest Withers captured some of the most iconic moments of the civil rights movement--from the rare photo of Martin Luther King Jr. in repose to the haunting photo of Emmet Till's great-uncle pointing an accusing finger at Till's killers. He was trusted and beloved by King's inner circle, and had a front row seat to history. But what most people don't know is that Withers was an informant for the FBI--and his photos helped the Bureau identify and surveil the era's greatest figures. This book explores the life, complex motivations, and legacy of this fascinating figure."--Provided by publisher.


  • Includes bibliographical references and index.


  • Introduction -- Part 1. The Assassination: In the shadows ; A moment of peace -- Part 2. The Discovery: The agent's tale ; A bold photographer ; 'No angel' ; Into the shed ; Informant ME 338-R -- Part 3. The Big Break: Up on the ridge ; The secret of the notes ; A tarnished badge ; An accusing finger: the Emmett Till case ; The breakthrough -- Part 4. Spying on the Movement: Assignment: tent city ; Tracking James Forman ; A prolific informant: Summer 1961 ; Communists, socialists, Black Muslims and assorted do-gooders: 1962-1965 ; The electric cross: the FBI gets tough, Summer 1965 ; James Lawson, civil rights and the peace movement ; The war in Memphis: disrupting the peace movement ; The communist resurgence: dirty tricks, fear and harassment -- Part 5. To the Brink: the FBI 's War on Dr. King and Black Power: The rise of the invaders: COINTELPRO, the media and the FBI ; 'Is anyone looking for us?': the risks of working undercover ; 'How rotten, how filthy': undercutting sympathizers and supporters ; Death of a movement: the FBI and the collapse of the SCLC ; The Black Panthers, Hoover and the end of an era -- Afterword
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