Unfinished

Unfinished

Witness Docs presents Unfinished, an investigative anthology series digging into America's unfinished business. Season 1, Deep South, produced in collaboration with Market Road Films, brought us on a journey into the Arkansas Delta to investigate the lynching of Isadore Banks. Season 2, produced with Critical Frequency, takes us to Short Creek, a community on the Utah/Arizona border divided by much more than a state line. Season 3, produced with Scripps, explores dual loyalties and hidden histories via the story of Ernest Withers, one of the most important photographers of the 20th century -- who was both a Civil Rights Movement photographer and a FBI informant. Hear more great stories about complicated people from Witness Docs at witnesspodcasts.com

Episodes

August 24, 2022 38 min

The FBI’s abusive domestic surveillance is exposed and after years of keeping his identity as an informant secret, Bill Lawrence and Ernest must testify under oath about their relationship. How far will they go to protect each other and preserve Ernest’s legacy as a hero of the civil rights movement?

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Dr. King returns to Memphis on April 3 to make good on his promise to lead a non-violent march. But first he has to get the militants on board. Ernest is relaying dozens of tips from inside every meeting and negotiation. Eye-witnesses share details of King’s final hours, and Ernest is instrumental in getting the most iconic and intimate images out to the world.

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August 10, 2022 37 min

We begin the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last eight days alive. A sanitation workers' strike brings King to Memphis - but by this time, March 1968, the movement is splintered. A homegrown Black Power group called the Invaders wants more active resistance, a non-violent protest turns into a riot and Ernest, now a paid racial informant, provides the FBI with a front row seat to an unfolding disaster.

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August 3, 2022 39 min

Ernest was an informant, but just how much damage did he actually cause? To what extent do the sins of the government fall on one man’s shoulders? Two people look over their FBI records and what Ernest revealed about them and arrive at very different conclusions.

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July 27, 2022 38 min

The FBI launches a massive, illegal intelligence dragnet to gather information that could be used to disrupt, discredit and damage people and groups it deems a threat. A lot of people get caught up in providing information to the law enforcement, including Ernest. So what made him different?

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Being on the front lines was dangerous - especially for a Black man with a camera. But Ernest puts himself at the center of the action. It’s easy to make friends with the Northern “agitators” pouring into West Tennessee and feed the FBI’s growing demand for their pictures.

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July 13, 2022 31 min

Ernest’s relationship with the FBI blossoms in 1961 in Fayette County, Tennessee where Black sharecroppers are kicked off their land just for trying to vote. FBI Special Agent Bill Lawrence and Ernest show up to help, but end up seeing something more sinister in the works.

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July 6, 2022 30 min

How did Ernest operate and why did he do it? Two daughters bring us as close as we can get to the minds of the men at the center of our story, Ernest and his handler FBI Special Agent Bill Lawrence.

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June 29, 2022 33 min

The FBI has a license to lie and it takes a landmark lawsuit to force them to hand over a trove of secret records detailing Ernest’s years as an FBI informant.

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Ernest Withers shot timeless photos covering the civil rights movement- Dr. King on that integrated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Emmett Till’s uncle pointing an accusing finger and striking garbage men in Memphis wearing I AM A MAN placards. His loyalty and dedication earned him the trust of movement leaders King, Young, Lawson. But what if that trust was misplaced - what if Ernest was leading a double life?

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June 15, 2022 2 min

The story of Ernest C. Withers, an African-American journalist dubbed the "original civil rights photographer" --  who also happened to be an FBI informant. In this third season of Unfinished, co-produced with The E.W. Scripps Company, host and journalist Wesley Lowery (CBS News, Washington Post) brings listeners through a story of dual loyalties, hidden histories and one man caught in the middle. Lowery also provides new p...

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Comedians Tess Barker and Babs Gray, who you might know from Lady to Lady or the now legendary Britney’s Gram podcast, are here to bring you a brand new investigative series about Britney Spears' conservatorship and the court system that's allowed it to persist.

After launching the #FreeBritney movement, they started to dig… And what they found out, you won’t want to miss!

Join Tess and Babs as they talk to exclusive sources...

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Hosts Ash Sanders and Sarah Ventre sit down with senior producer Abigail Keel to respond to listeners' questions & comments about Unfinished: Short Creek. This is a special premium bonus episode that has been unlocked for everyone to hear! Three more bonus episodes will be released over the next three weeks. To hear those, go to stitcher.com/premium and sign up with the code WITNESS for a free month of listening. You’ll get...

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November 9, 2020 46 min

In the season finale, a few final scenes from Short Creek. After all that's happened here, we look at what healing might look like for the people of Short Creek.

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Ex-believers see an opportunity for democracy and work to bring the first free and fair election to Short Creek.

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October 26, 2020 38 min

As divisions deepen in Short Creek, the Department of Justice puts the two towns on trial for religious discrimination... forcing the community to change, one way or another.

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October 19, 2020 42 min

Ex-believers return to Short Creek and face discrimination from FLDS who still control the towns. In an attempt to reclaim the community, ex-believers face off with former family members over land, and power.

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Warren Jeffs continues to control Short Creek from prison. As families are torn apart and the faithful are divided according to their "righteousness," some of his most ardent believers hit their breaking point. But can they stay away from Short Creek for long?

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October 5, 2020 44 min

Elissa Wall takes prophet Warren Jeffs to court, and his followers back in Short Creek are forced to reckon with his crimes—or not.

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In order to understand Short Creek now, you have to understand how it came to be. A determined group of fundamentalists create a community in order to live their religion in peace...but the government has other ideas.

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