(Top: Sign in front of J. Paul Leonard Library Gallery at San Francisco State University announcing “Marching Though History” exhibition 2013)
(Bottom: Detail shot of Cathy Murphy’s photo, “Cesar Chavez with his dogs, Boycott and Huelga”)
About Cathy Murphy:
When Brooks Institute of Photography opened its doors to female students in the mid-70s, Cathy moved to Santa Barbara to continue her photographic studies. While working as a photographic stringer for the Santa Barbara News and Review, she met one of America’s great Civil Rights leaders, Cesar E. Chavez. After seeing some of Cathy’s photographs, Chavez offered her the position of Staff Photographer for United Farm Workers. Like all UFW volunteers, Cathy was provided housing, a food allowance and $5 per week in wages. Cathy accepted the position and continued to photograph the entire “Thousand Mile March.”
For more than two years, first with the UFW then with a grant from the Woody Guthrie Foundation, Cathy worked in the fields documenting the plight of the farm workers and their children who often worked from dawn until dusk in what Chavez called “the killing fields.” Cathy’s photographs were used by the UFW to rally support for ending child labor and inhumane working conditions. Through her friendship with Cesar and his family, Cathy also captured the personal side of his life as seen in her collection “Marching Through History with Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers.”
(Cathy Murphy - “Cesar Chavez talking to UFW Supporters King City, California” 1975)
On my last day in the Bay Area we visited "Marching Through History" with Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers exhibition. The "Marching Through History" exhibit was a Photo Documentary by Cathy Murphy. Which was held on the campus of San Francisco State University at the J. Paul Leonard Library Gallery and was sponsored by the Labor Archives and Research Center. We attended the “Marching Through History” exhibition on the first day of instruction for many at SFSU, which was not as hectic as I thought it would have been.
Anita also had to tie some ends on campus before she began class the next day.
Top: (“Marching Through History” with Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers)
Bottom: (Detail image of: Cathy Murphy’s - “Dolores Huerta and her children attending a wedding at Agbayani Village” 1975)
After standing in a couple lines, we proceeded to make our way through the first day school crowds and arrive at the J. Paul Leonard Library Gallery, to attend Cathy Murphy’s exhibition of rarely seen photographs of Cesar Chavez. I was not familiar with Cathy Murphy’s photos of the UFW prior to attending this exhibition. I had only learned in my research the exhibit focused on photographic images of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers (UFW). Once at the exhibit I was able to learn more about the story and contributions of Cathy Murphy who first photographed Cesar Chavez in 1975. I became engaged with Cathy’s thought provoking images of Cesar Chavez and the UFW. The photographs along with Cathy’s first-hand accounts enlightened me with in-depth knowledge of UFW history and the struggles for laborers rights during her stint as Cesar’s photographer.
(Cathy Murphy - “Small boy about to lift a pesticide can filled with about 20 pounds of onions” 1976)
The “Marching Through History” with Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers exhibit consisted of mostly black & white photographs, with a few colored images, and period UFW labor ephemera.
There were many thought provoking images, two such photos that brought me delight were entitled, “Cesar relaxing during a retreat Sweet’s Mill, California” circa 1976, in which I perceived Cesar still assessing the day during a much deserved break, and “Cesar Chavez with his dogs, Boycott and Huelga” 1975, where it looks as Cesar is enjoying Tonatiuh’s rays with his German shepherd companions. To the somber photos of children working in filled fields like, “Small boy about to lift a pesticide can filled with about 20 pounds of onions” 1976, and the final image in the exhibit was a moving photograph from 1993 entitled, “Richard Chavez saying goodbye to Cesar, his brother and best friend,” which was a photograph of Cesar Chavez being laid to rest as his brother Richard paid his respects to an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist.
Very inspiring exhibition Cathy Murphy, San Francisco State University, and the J. Paul Leonard Library Gallery. Bravo.
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